Arsenal are poised to prise Raya from Brentford?


What is going on with this club? We’re all used to transfer rumours flying fast and furious, but they’re usually the result of some hack playing mad-libs with the template “[insert club name] linked with SHOCK move for want-away [insert player name]. Having already dared to upset rivals by spending money, Arsenal now seem ready to sign yet another player, Brentford’s David Raya.

At first blush, this doesn’t make sense. We already have an established keeper in Aaron Ramsdale, and he’s to be our nailed-on starter for the foreseeable future…isn’t he? Truth be told, he’s been a bit shaky for some time, and were it not for some incredible saves here and there, he’s been leaking goals. I’m not just referring to the two he conceded to Man U or the three to Barça, Even his distribution has lacked the zip and precision we’d come to expect. Without any meaningful competition, Ramsdale’s gotten complacent. Turner is a decent bloke and competent keeper, but he doesn’t challenge Ramsdale enough to keep our #1 on his toes.

If we were to sign Raya, we’d be adding a keeper who’d both want to play and be quite good at doing so. His expectation—and Arteta’s as well—would be to play, and not just in League Cup or dead-rubber matches. With Brentford valuing last season’s #1 at some £40m, we might end up paying close to double what we paid to get Ramsdale. That’s hardly back-up keeper money.

Brentford are apparently open to selling Raya after having signed Mark Flekken. Thomas Frank has said that “I think it’s natural that he would like to leave if it’s a good opportunity for him. We all think it’s a good idea at the right price.” Raya is said to prefer a move to Arsenal over Bayern, continuing an apparent trend of this club attracting interest over other, more-successful clubs, and that’s a testament to the belief that Arteta seems to instill in the players he talks to.

One ace in the hole Arteta have up his sleeve is his hiring of keepers coach Iñaki Caña, whom he lured away from Brentford back in December 2019. Raya had just signed for Brentford in July 2019, so it’s not as if the two have a long relationship, but there might be enough there to encourage Raya to want to re-connect (in addition, of course, for a chance at being the starting keeper for your 2023-24 Prem champs…).

As we’re sizing Raya up, he does start to seem more and more like he could be superior to Ramsdale. While some of the stats in the graphic above are inflated somewhat by the fact that Brentford doesn’t dominate possession to the same degree that Arsenal tend to, a more-direct comparison shows that he surpasses Ramsdale in numerous important areas, as you can see in this graphic below.

Even as we caution ourselves against putting too much stock in keeper stats, Ramsdale seems to come up short in just about every area except saving penalties, and that’s a crapshoot anyway. I’d wager that the lion’s share of saved penalties had more to do with the placement of the shot that with any skill a keeper has.

On a larger level, Raya has the feel of being the superior keeper, at least for now. Some of us may be biased in Ramsdale’s favour by mere dint of his being our current keeper. Some, on the other hand, doubt that he’s as good as his reputation has become. In either case, signing a player like Raya would strengthen the squad, whether by motivating Ramsdale to focus or by supplanting Ramsdale. For as strange as it still feels to see us spending so much, especially in one window, this is a position that needs the reinforcement or upgrade.

Edu, fire that BBQ up.

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10 thoughts on “Arsenal are poised to prise Raya from Brentford?

  1. Eoin ó Conchobhair

    love Rammers but he’s been slacking off lately. Great personality but he has to earn the spot. If Raya is better, we should sign him and let him start. If Ramsdale can raise his game to keep the spot, all the better for us! There’s going to be plenty of important matches with Champions League, and we’re building a squad that should be able to compete on all four fronts.

    1. Jon Shay Post author

      It’s bewildering to think that we’re so close to Man City’s model of being legitimately two-deep at so many positions. We’re not there yet, but we’re far closer to having a squad that can fight on all fronts. If nothing else, injuries pose far less of a threat to our prospects.

  2. palladio43

    At least Ramsdale does not stand around smoking cigarettes (albeit not while within the goal mouth), as did one of our former keepers, that led to his departure. However, it would seem, as you indicated, there has been a bit of a decline, whether a lack of concentration or smugness as to lack of competition is hard to know.

    1. Jon Shay Post author

      Smugness leading to complacency is my bet. Even after a howler, looking at Mat Turner on the bench would probably reassurance rather than self-doubt.

  3. A Simple Truth

    as has been suggested there’s been some chatter regarding the notion of us selling the underwhelming Turner and pursuing the highly sought-after Raya…I have no problem whatsoever with shipping Turner, as he’s clearly not the kind of top flight keeper we could rely upon should Ramsdale go down, but the idea of us paying north of 30M for another keeper would be full-on bonkers…I actually rate Raya higher than Ramsdale, albeit not by a significant amount, and I do like the idea of having some “real” competition behind our starter, just like at every other position, but if we were to invest heavily again in that particular position that would be chequebook managing at it’s finest…on the other hand, selling Turner then buying Raya’s backup, Flekken, who’s well-above average with the ball at his feet, for a small fraction of the Raya fee, would represent a good little piece of business…now if we’re actually looking to sell Ramsdale then disregard everything Ive just said, as under those circumstances I’m all for a Raya push

  4. jw1

    Not so sure the lens through which to compare Raya and Rams is a statistical comparison. But rather, how would David Raya’s stats look had he played on a play-out-from-the-back team– rather than a hoof-it-long-and-second-ball-it one?

    Last season for example Bernd Leno stopped -9.5Xg better than the PL average. While Aaron Ramsdale allowed +2.2Xg above PL average. Yet, I’m certain from the eye test alone, that Rams’ superior ball distribution was worth some measure of that difference to Leno’s numbers.

    Ramsdale decision-making sometimes puts your heart-in-throat– sometimes game to game. But the true howlers are rare (like Soton). And, when we play such a high line– in the opposition’s half most times– Ramsdale is going to be caught out on an island more often than other keepers who play for teams that play a defend-first style.

    So I have two takes at the Raya to Arsenal rumor. The first is legit competition for Ramsdale. It needs to happen. Matt Turner, as much as he’s my national team’s #1– godlovehim, he’s not at the #2-level for Arsenal. He served the purpose last term– and we’ll make a profit from moving him on to Forest. Good business.

    The second take– is David Raya was Arteta’s first choice before we settled on Aaron Ramsdale. But Brentford wouldn’t budge prior to their maiden season coming into the PL (for over 50yrs). Clearly Arteta values Raya, but I’m not sure he’s better by any large margin than Ramsdale.

    Then, there’s the stumping up of £40M to bring in a #2. There’s little doubt Ramsdale is #1 right now. You don’t pay double for #2 than you paid for #1. This radically affects the squad dynamic.

    Make no mistake– Arsenal are now at the stage that having two top-flight keepers is a necessity. And £40M seems the price of insurance to be certain our season doesn’t crater with Matt Turner in goal.

    But this is a bolt-from-the-blue.

    1. Kelechi

      Leno is a great, old school, shot stop in keeper, but he clearly could not adapt to playing out from the back. Ram still may not be quite as good at that old-fashioned role, but he is far more comfortable playing out from the back. Who knows what the trade-off is for goals conceded to goals created? Ramsdale did assist Trossard against Barcelona, so that’s one.

      Where we after Rays before settling for Ramsdale? I don’t think I had seen that. If so, all the more reason for Ramsdale to improve his consistency. Raya had to face a lot more shots, so it stands to reason that he would also face a lot more high quality shots, but his save percentage is still much better than Ramsdale‘s was.

      I’m a big fan of our current keeper, but I also want us to compete and to win as much as possible.

      £40m doesn’t buy you a pack of keeper. It buys you a starter.

      1. jw1

        Vaguely remembered the bid, so looked it up–

        Raya had a £10M release clause in 2020 while Brentford was in the Championship. Apparently, we made the bid after they had won promotion– negating the clause. Brentford refused to entertain the same bid afterward through September ’20.

        Then there’s this–

        ‘Arsenal goalkeeping coach Inaki Cana joined the Gunners from Brentford in 2019, very shortly after the arrival of Mikel Arteta.’

  5. Kelechi

    First thing, John — you have to do something about the way images appear at the top of the post. They appear stretched vertically. It didn’t happen with this post with the second image, for what it’s worth.

    Secondly, 40 million is a hell of a lot to spend on a pack up to keep her. If this story is true, Ramsdale is in serious trouble because Arteta wants a new number one.

  6. consolsbob

    Could be that we will pay somewhat less than the headline figure of £40m. Who else is in the market? None of the PL’s other top sides, Bayern don’t want to buy just borrow.

    Time will tell.


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