Do Arsenal need that unwanted goalkeeping upgrade with David Raya?

David Raya has slightly better numbers to make him an upgrade over Aaron Ramsdale, but is this change an absolute priority at this stage for Arsenal?

Fans, who have a favourable leaning towards Aaron Ramsdale, would say ‘no’. But those who are all in for making the position better will approve of the move to sign David Raya. Mikel Arteta has brought in many surprises during his term as Arsenal boss. But nothing might come close to what transpired on Sunday.

David Ornstein, in his typical manner, dropped a bomb out of nowhere that Arsenal were exploring a move for David Raya. The Brentford goalkeeper’s contractual situation remains a well-known fact. But nobody in their right mind considered the Gunners to emerge as favourites for him.

Tottenham seriously explored a move early in the window but could not agree to pay Brentford’s £40 million asking price. To an extent, there is some sympathy towards Spurs, considering Raya had entered the last year of his deal.

Guglielmo Vicario seems like one of those archetypical Spurs-type signings from over the years. But with Raya, they may have made an error with their timing. Had they made that approach in the latter stages of the window, Brentford might have caved in for less. But Tottenham’s loss seems like Arsenal’s gain right now.

With Arsenal weighing up a move for Raya, the Spaniard has reportedly given his green light to sign for Arsenal. In the process, he may have rejected Bayern Munich. Believe it or not, barring Jurrien Timber, every other player, including Declan Rice and Kai Havertz, were heavily linked with Bayern Munich, which becomes this window’s story.

Regardless of whether Arsenal manage to sign Raya in this window, Arteta has thoroughly surprised everyone with his intention. The idea to upgrade over Ramsdale has come as a shock for many but a pleasant surprise for others who already consider the Spaniard the upgrade needed.

Arteta reportedly wanted Raya as his first-choice goalkeeper back when he joined the club. But a deal never materialised for reasons unknown. The Brentford star has been immense under Thomas Frank. But the latest call from the Gunners has tempted the Spanish international.

There’s also the factor of Inaki Cana, the Arsenal goalkeeping coach with a long history with Raya. He has reportedly recommended him to Arteta and will be eager to work with the Spaniard again. There are also some hints from the goalkeeper himself, who has reportedly rejected the overtures of Bayern Munich.

The Bavarians want him, but Raya probably knows he will play second fiddle to Manuel Neuer once the German becomes fit again. Hence, the Brentford star is ready to embrace the competition to oust Ramsdale off his perch and take the No.1 spot at Arsenal.

This move has a few questions, starting with the asking price. Brentford want £40 million, which Arsenal will absolutely not pay. There were reports of a £15 million bid, although there’s a feeling the two clubs will meet halfway in this saga.

The most important question is why Arteta wants Raya now, considering he has a healthy pair of goalkeepers in his squad. Let us explore some ideas ahead, as the Arsenal boss may have an audacious idea in his head and seems closer to executing it.

Is Mikel Arteta this ruthless?

We have seen where Mikel Arteta has made the hard decisions with some of his high-profile players before, but never to someone who has immense value on this side. When he arrived, Aaron Ramsdale was pencilled in to take over from Bernd Leno gradually, but he did that in three games.

Since then, Ramsdale has visibly raised the floor for Arsenal and showed how much better he was than Leno. The latter continues to excel in the shot-stopping aspect, which his numbers show were much superior to most keepers in the league.

Meanwhile, Ramsdale might have given his manager some room for doubt following his performances in the latter part of the season. It was also the pressure-oriented period when Arsenal needed all their players to perform at the highest levels.

There were a few suspects, including Ramsdale, which may have changed the manager’s mind about him. Despite signing a new long-term deal in March, Arteta is now open to adding a No.1 competitor that will define Ramsdale’s character.

How Ramsdale had been the floor raiser when he arrived, Raya could become the level raiser that Arterta seeks in this squad. It appears that the Arsenal boss will stop at nothing to realise his squad’s potential, including changing his well-established no.1 goalkeeper.

While there is no direct suggestion that Arteta wants Raya as his new No.1, nobody thinks that Arsenal are paying a hefty fee for a No.2. The situation was similar when Arsenal pursued Ramsdale. Nobody then thought the Gunners were spending £24 million on a deputy.

The fact that Ramsdale is considered one of the most highly-valued goalkeepers in the world speaks volumes as to why Arsenal wanted to tie him down for the long term. However, in terms of style and absolute brilliance on the field, Arteta is ready to take his chances by signing Raya and competing with two of the top keepers in England for one spot.

Aaron Ramsdale vs David Raya

If statistics are the measure to compare goalkeepers and if they are better for a particular system, then the results are somewhat mixed. For instance, this article on The Athletic runs a sheet which suggests Raya has been the fourth-best stopper in the Premier League with the combined numbers in two seasons.

It also puts Alisson Becker, Bernd Leno and Kepa Arrizabalaga ahead of the Spaniard in that order, which proves the numbers do not mean anything significant in comparing goalkeepers. Most numbers are shrouded by how their teams play.

For instance, Raya faced a high volume of shots last season, with Brentford the third busiest team facing 14.1 shots per game. That naturally allows the Spaniard to boast a better shots-saved record than Ramsdale.

Secondly, Raya also dwarfs Ramsdale in the long ball stat, with the Spaniard having a much superior percentage in terms of success with those deliveries. That has other aspects, as Brentford had someone like Ivan Toney to collect those balls, whereas Arsenal generally lacked a similar presence in their attacking zone.

However, some numbers could have compelled Arteta to take this opportunistic move and urge the club to pursue Raya. For instance, Raya has massively overperformed his expected goals on target (xGOT), preventing more than five goals than he should have based on the quality of shots he has faced.

In comparison, Ramsdale has visibly underperformed in that regard. It shows that Raya seems more aware of the opponents’ range and prevents some crucial goals throughout the season. It is not that the Arsenal star has not done anything similar, but it does not reflect on the stats bar.

There are suggestions that while Ramsdale might have a good career trajectory, he may not have improved significantly over the two years at Arsenal. For Arteta, the key to having a goalkeeper of his choice is to help with the build-up. For Ramsdale, he may argue, he does not to have someone like Ivan Toney to get at the end of some productive long balls.

Ramsdale did make some terrific saves during his two seasons at the Emirates. Still, Arteta might ruthlessly bring in a superior stopper to improve his team’s chances next season. It is also healthy competition for both goalkeepers to push their respective levels, which could benefit Arsenal in their quest for greatness.

In conclusion, Arsenal would largely benefit from a player like Raya in their side, but Ramsdale is not too bad either. However, at present, one may think the Spaniard will oust the England international in no time, which could take Arsenal to the next level and add another clever layer to Arteta’s plans.

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