On the day of Emi Martinez’s debut for Aston Villa, Arsenal officially announce the arrival and signing of Runar Alex Runarsson.
Arsenal’s goal keeping conundrum was one of the hottest debates of the summer for quite some time, until Arteta and club made their definitive statement that Leno would get the nod. There will still be a handful that disagree with the selection, and some of Leno’s play against West Ham won’t have helped, but it seems as though club and player have left on good terms.
Emi wanted first team starting time and a well-deserved but substantial pay raise, Arsenal weren’t willing to guarantee his place, and a move away was the only option. Ideally, from an Arsenal perspective, there would have been a true competition for the spot, but with Martinez’s stock higher than it has ever been, it was the right time to go.
His replacement, and likely Arsenal’s number two, Runar Alex Runarsson comes from Ligue 1 Dijon, but has struggled immensely between the sticks. It’s caused many to wonder in agony why Arsenal would be looking to bring him in. But with a small £2m fee, it must be understood that this is a calculated risk from Arteta and Arsenal that his time on the actual pitch this year will be limited, and that funds from Emi’s sale must be used for greater needs.
You can read my full thoughts on the deal from a blog last week.
Technical director Edu said: “We’re very pleased to welcome Alex to our squad. We have been monitoring him for some time and from the analysis, he has strong attributes that we look for in a goalkeeper and as a person.”
The attribute that seemingly is being discussed here is Runarsson’s ability with the ball at his feet. By all accounts it is one of his strongest skills, while he struggles with many other aspects.
Mikel Arteta commented on the Runarsson saying, “We want to create healthy competition for places and we look forward to seeing Alex bring further depth to the goalkeeping position.”
It makes sense that some semblance of competition is important for Leno’s success, but Runarsson will be hard pressed to supersede Leno in the pecking order. There has been some suggestion that we may see Runarsson as soon as Wednesday when Arsenal take on Leicester City, but that feels like a tight turnaround.
For the keeper that is extremely familiar with Arsenal’s keeper coach Inaki Cana Pavon, that relationship will hopefully lead to growth and success. A huge uphill battle to get to the standards that Emi was at but he hardly needs to reach those, yet.
He is well and truly the back up and that’s just the risk Arsenal may have to take.
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