Tag Archives: david raya

Risky Runar Runarsson

Arsenal have taken a risk signing unknown Icelandic keeper Runar Alex Runarsson.

Our friends over at Gunners Town have spoken to the Vice President of the official Arsenal Iceland, Hilmar Guðjónsson about his fellow countryman, and the exclusive makes fairy grim reading.

Hilmar reveals that “Iceland are not blessed with good goal keepers”, which is a concern when Runarsson has just 5 caps, and has not played since 2015.

Runarsson joined Dijon in 2018, but last season lost his place as number 1, starting just 9 Ligue 1 games.

Hilmar goes on to say that Runarsson has a poor shot stop ratio and does not dominate his area.

Arsenal goalkeeper coach Inaki Cana has previously coaches Runarsson at FC Nordsjælland, so you have to feel he has been recommend to the club.

So Runarsson does not arrive with a glowing reputation. Arsenal are clearly taking huge risk signing him.

Arsenal received a reported £17m upfront from Aston Villa for Emi Martinez, and a decision has clearly been made to buy the “cheapest option possible” leaving the majority of that fee to be spent elsewhere on the team.

The club could have gone out and signed David Raya from Brentford for £10m.

Spaniard Raya is an experience Championship goalkeeper and, importantly, home grown. Instead Arsenal went for Runarsson for just £1.5m.

That leaves Arsenal with £15.5m spare from the Martinez deal, rather than £7m.

Arsenal are taking a risk on Bernd Leno staying fit.

Leno is undisputed number 1. He will be between the sticks for every game. Runarsson is being signed to take a seat on the bench.

Arsenal would have looked at Leno and realised he is a fit young man.

Leno has missed just 19 League games in 9 seasons, playing out of 296 out of 315 league games for Arsenal and Leverkusen.

According to Transfermarkt, he has had 2 spells in his career when he missed games.

Back in 2012/13, he missed a handful of games with an elbow injury. More recently he missed games for Arsenal following a dangerous challenge by Neal Mupay against Brighton.

By signing Runarsson, Arsenal are banking on Leno maintaining his excellent injury record.

But what if he gets injured again?

My feeling is Arsenal would request the Premier League to authorise an emergency loan to cover Leno rather than promote Runarsson to number 1.

Premier League rules state that “teams are allowed to sign goalkeepers on emergency loan cover, but this is generally if no senior goalkeepers are available”.

Arsenal would then have to make the case that, despite being 25, Runarsson is not a “senior goal keeper”.

In their favour, they could argue that he has yet to start a Premier League game, and only made 9 starts in France last year.

If the league agree to the loan deal, Arsenal could then scour England for the “best available number 2” to come in on a temporary basis.

If Emi Martinez is playing week in, week out for Aston Villa, there is a high chance that could be Tom Heaton.

Arsenal might have to write off the “additional fees” to secure the England international, whom Villa signed for £8m just last summer.

Fraser Forster from Southampton and Marek Rodak of Fulham would also be options if the time came to it – the later will probably be usurped as number one by Alphonse Areola this season.

The emergency loan would then come into the first team with Runarsson remaining on the bench.

By going cheap to Runarsson, Arsenal are freeing money up to be spent elsewhere, but it is a risk.

Note: Since writing this blog, news has broken that Arsenal might also sign David Raya, with the deal being completed this summer, by Raya allowed to stay on loan at Brentford for the season.

This would only make sense if Arsenal only made a down payment this summer, with the rest of the transfer fee being paid next summer. And Arsenal had a clause in the loan deal allowing Raya to be recalled at any time if Bernd Leno picked up an injury (with the remaining transfer fee payable immediately).

An interesting development.



New Manager, New Goalkeeper, Renewed Hope over The Arsenal

Yesterday was a gay old day for Arsenal.

We awoke to the Adidas video. If this was not enough to warm the cockles of your heart ahead of the season, you might be best of sitting it out.

It is only this morning as I post the video back up that I realise it was a promotion video for the 3rd kit.

The video had its desired affect, and 98% of the fan base is now buzzing for Saturday. The less said about the 2% the better.

Then at 9pm last night, Arsenal dropped the news that Mikel Arteta had been promoted to manager.

This is a promotion of huge significance, and shows Arteta has the backing of the senior leadership team and board at Arsenal.

From head coach to manager means Arteta will now be involved in all aspects of the first team, not just the coaching. He will be more heavily involved in transfer, in building his own scouting team. Building the team in his mind. Not just coaching another mans vision.

Excellent news for those who do not like a Director of Football running the club.

At around the same time as the Arteta news was breaking, the Independent broke that Emi Martinez was set to join Aston Villa for around £15million.

The fee does feel a little light, but as it stands no other club is coming in for him.

With just 2 years on his contract to go, and Emi refusing to sign a new deal unless he had “guarantees of first team football”, Arsenal had 3 choices:

  1. Give Emi want he wants – Make him Arsenal number 1 after just 9 Premier League games. Casting aside Bernd Leno, one of our most consistent performers of the last 2 years. This would see Arsenal favour a 28-year-old keeper with just 15 top flight games under his over one with 300 games. It would be a huge risk.
  2. Risk Emi running down his contract – Tell Martinez that he will start the season as number one, but that he is not guaranteed that position. It is then a fair fight between Martinez and Leno for that number 1 shirt. This then risks Martinez dropping down to number 2, not signing a new deal and Arsenal selling for £5-6million next summer.
  3. Sell Emi – Even at £15million, Martinez is at the most valuable he has ever been at Arsenal. Last summer he was on the verge of a move back to Spain for about £3-4million. 9 league games on and Arsenal are trebling that. Sell, reinvest in someone cheaper, make Leno number one and have some cash left over.

And ultimately it is number 3 that seems to be happening.

Martinez wants first team football. He is 28-years-old now, in his peak years as a goal keeper. His 10 year career at Arsenal had giving him very little to shout about prior to this season.

A handful of games for The Arsenal and 6 loan deals taking from Oxford to Getafe, Wolverhampton, Rotherham, Sheffield and Reading.

For the first time in his career, he is in charge of his own destiny. He can choose whether to stay in London, compete for number 1 at Arsenal, or move to a club of his choosing and be undisputed number 1.

Life as a 2nd choice goal keeper is hard. You train hard, day in day out, only to sit on the bench for much of your career. Steve Harper famously went 6 seasons at Newcastle playing a total of 7 Premier League games.

In total, Harper was an unused substitute over 300 times!

Martinez wants first team football, and Arsenal should not step in his way.

Arsenal have reportedly enquired about David Raya as a replacement.

Raya is currently Brentford’s number 1, and played every game of the season in 2019/20 winning the Championship’s Golden Glove award.

Like Martinez, he is a foreign born, home-grown player; having been born in Barcelona but joining Blackburn at 17.

If Martinez leaves, Arsenal have no option but to replace him with a home grown player.

We currently have 18 non-home grown players, and with our remaining transfer targets being Ghanaian and French, that number could well become 20. We are only allowed 17.

So before even considering replacing Martinez, we already need to sell at least 3 non-home grown players to make space for 2 incoming. Signing a non-home grown 2nd choice keeper would just feel like a waste of a spot.

Once it is established that Arsenal will need a home grown keeper to replace Martinez, the list becomes a lot smaller. Tom Heaton of Aston Villa or Fraser Forster at Southampton would be two potential options. But both have suffered with injuries recently and would very much be a short term solution.

Joe Hart could have been in there, but he has joined Tottenham.

We are not going to spend big on someone like Nick Pope or Jack Butland, and neither would probably want to leave their current clubs to sit on the bench for Arsenal.

In Raya, Arsenal would be signing a 25-year-old keeper that is home grown, previously worked with Arsenal goal keeping coach Inaki Cana and set-piece specialist Andreas Georgson at Brentford and has played over 280 games in England.

Raya ticks a lot of boxes, and would cost significantly less than what we would receive for Martinez. That in turns raises funds to continue improving elsewhere on the pitch.

For those who might say “he is only 6ft”, Brentford had the best record in defending set pieces last year. You do not do that if you do not have a goal keeper who can not command his box.

A final thought of the day: If you are sitting moaning about Arsenal’s transfer activity this summer, labelling the club unambitious, go through your own Tweets first. Wanting to sell Aubameyang and sign Ryan Fraser is onot exactly showing ambition.

Have a good Friday. The Arsenal return tomorrow.

PS: Just wish Adidas would learn it is “The Arsenal”.