Arsenal have completed the signing of Brentford goalkeeper David Raya on loan. The loan fee is believed to be around £3m with a purchase option of £27m. The deal is obligatory once Raya has played a specific number of games, though this number is undisclosed, and the club still retain their purchase option, even if he does not meet these obligation requirements. The Spaniard has taken the number 22 shirt, vacated by the departed Pablo Marí.
Arsenal had previously made an offer at the beginning of August for Raya, which was rejected by Brentford. Their initial offer was £20m, with £3m in add-ons. In the end, it looked as though Arsenal would complete a deal for £25m with £3m in add-ons; a deal that was actually below the £30m base offer Tottenham made only a few weeks prior, that Brentford rejected, but news broke last week that the deal would be a loan with an option to buy. The structure of the deal is thought to be a result of Arsenal’s careful consideration of Financial Fair Play (FFP) restrictions, regarding spending.
Raya’s arrival has come as something of a shock to Arsenal fans. Aaron Ramsdale is the club’s preferred number one choice (having just signed a new contract with the club back in April), and Matt Turner was an able-bodied number two, though he has now joined Nottingham Forest.
This is also not the first time that Arsenal have tried to sign Raya. After the sale of Emiliano Martínez to Aston Villa, the Gunners seriously considered Raya as back-up to Bernd Leno, with a view to taking over from the German. However, Arsenal’s efforts were rebuffed and, eventually, Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson was signed from FC Dijon.
Both Rúnarsson and Raya have previously worked with Arsenal goalkeeping coach Iñaki Caña Pavón, who championed both signings.
Raya began his career in Spain with UE Cornellà, before moving to England to become a part of the Blackburn Rovers academy set-up. Raya impressed at Blackburn, and on loan at Southport, earning him a move to Brentford for £3m.
Raya’s role at Brentford has been transformational for Thomas Frank. Employed mainly as a sweeper-keeper, Raya was essential for Brentford’s swift counter-attacking style, earning plaudits for his long and short-range passing abilities. His play style was best on display as Brentford smashed Manchester United 4-0 at home on the second day of last season’s Premier League campaign.
The signing now raises an important question as to who will be the main goalkeeper for the Gunenrs moving forward. Ostensibly, Aaron Ramsdale is club’s number 1, both in number and spirit, however, both goalkeepers are deemed too good to be on the bench alone. Brighton & Hove Albion displayed last season that, while tricky, it is possible to rotate goalkeepers, which may be in the thinking of Mikel Arteta.
Raya’s arrival will likely conclude Arsenal’s remaining transfer business. It is also a floruish with which to end a hugely expensive window, with Kai Havertz arriving from Chelsea for £65m, Jürrien Timber joining from Ajax for £34m, and Declan Rice joining from West Ham, becoming the club’s all-time record signing, as well as a new British transfer record.
Meanwhile, departures are expected to heat up. Granit Xhaka has already departed for Bayer Leverkusen for £21.5m, Pablo Marí completed a permanent move to Monza, while Auston Trust has joined Sheffield United for £5m. Nicolas Pépé, Nuno Tavares and Folarian Balogun are all available for transfer too.