Let’s start with the news that Arsenal have agreed a deal with Brentford for the signing of David Raya. The fee is reportedly in the region of £30m all in. The Times, for example, cite £25m, and from that we can assume there are £5m in add-ons. Others says £28m + £2m. Final fee depends on who is briefing it, right? The selling club will make it sound as high as possible, the buyers want to make it look as if they got a good deal. Anyway, let’s call it £30m in the same way we can call Matt Turner to Nottingham Forest £10m if all the clauses are met there.
Either way, if you take the Turner money and take it off the Raya transfer fee, it’s around £20m for a very good goalkeeper with a load of Premier League experience. It’s also a signing that radically shifts the dynamic at Arsenal. Until now, Aaron Ramsdale was the unquestionable number 1, with Matt Turner the obvious number 2. Now we have two keepers who are good enough to be the main man.
I did enjoy Ramsdale’s reaction to this when asked about it. He said:
Bring it on. Nothing comes easy in football. But also at the same time you need to move along and adapt as well. I’ve done it to other people when I’ve moved to clubs. I’m not going to be thinking that it’s never going to happen to me.
So, yeah, I think if it happens, it happens and then we’ll fight and we’ll make each other the best version of ourselves because that’s what the manager is telling us as well.
I’m sure whoever plays, me, Matt, whoever comes in, the goalkeeping union … and people will laugh at that but it’s a real thing … your individual disappointment will go away and you’ll put the team first and you’ll put that goalkeeper first as well.
Can’t fault that attitude, and if we know anything about Aaron is that he is going to be up for the fight. I do wonder if he might feel the decks are loaded a bit, given the long-standing relationship between Raya and goalkeeping coach Iñaki Caña, but the number 1 shirt is his right now, and his displays in pre-season ought to secure that for the start of the new campaign. If he keeps up that kind of form, it’ll remain his, and let’s not forget that just a few weeks ago, Arsenal demonstrated their faith in him by handing him a new long-term contract.
The obvious benefit to Arsenal is that we now have real depth in a key position. I always worried a bit about Matt Turner having to play for any prolonged period, because of the drop-off between him and Ramsdale – particularly when it comes to having the ball at his feet. It wasn’t his strength, he admitted as much, but it’s so fundamental to how we play it always puzzled me a bit why we signed a keeper for whom that was a bit of a challenge. If Ramsdale picks up an injury or a suspension, that gap isn’t there any more, and over the course of a season when we’re looking to achieve real success, it could be really useful.
I do have some worries about how it might play out in the long-term though. The reality of having two number 1s is that someone will lose, someone won’t play, and someone will be disgruntled. That’s something that Mikel Arteta hasn’t had to deal with much since he very carefully crafted this squad, but no doubt it’s something he’ll have considered. Whichever one it is, I can’t see either Ramsdale or Raya content to play second fiddle, and the consequence is a departure.
I feel like that’s inevitable, if not by the end of the first season, certainly by the time we get to the end of the next one. Again, Arteta and Arsenal can’t be blind to this, so I have to assume that’s something they are prepared for. Until then though, if these guys can – as Ramsdale says – push each other to be the best they can possibly be, the winner is Arsenal, and I guess that comes out on top of any individual or our own preference/favourites. Let’s see how it pans out, it is going to be fascinating to see how this situation develops over the course of the new season.
Beyond that, there does seem to be a bit behind the Kieran Tierney/Real Sociedad stuff. The La Liga side are looking at a loan with an option to buy, which isn’t quite what we had envisaged when it came to his future this summer, but in the absence of any other interest, what else is there? I am surprised there isn’t another Premier League sniffing around a player of his quality, where his attributes would be a very decent fit, but maybe there’ll be a bit of a surprise as we head into the final weeks of the window.
Finally for today, there’s some extra for you over on Patreon where I’m helped delve into the world of injuries, prevention, rehabilitation, greater education in the game, and lots more, by Arsenal fan Dr Andrew Mitchell from the University of Bedfordshire. Really interesting stuff, you can get it here.
Also, you have until Friday to join our Patreon Fantasy Football League, with cash prizes for the winners. See below, or more at patreon.com/arseblog.