A Look at 3 Potential Backup Goalkeeper Recruits for Arsenal
By Rob Worthington (Senior Writer)
After the £20 million departure of Emi Martinez in the Summer of 2020, Arsenal looked to Ligue 1 for a replacement understudy for Bernd Leno. Given he’d already worked with goalkeeping coach Iñaki Cana, a deal to bring in Dijon No. 2 Alex Runar Runarsson made sense.
However, Runarsson was not Arsenal’s priority. The Athletic reported throughout the Summer that the Gunners were courting Brentford’s David Raya, a goalkeeper who is superbly comfortable with the ball at his feet, has vast experience and also possessed the attractive ‘homegrown’ status.
Nevertheless, Brentford were steadfast in their response to approaches from Arsenal. Raya was not for sale. After it became apparent a deal was impossible, Arsenal looked to Runarsson.
Unfortunately, any hopes of Runarsson turning around his poor form with Dijon have not materialised. Statistically, the Icelandic international was one of Ligue 1’s worst goalkeepers and his performance against Manchester City in the Carabao Cup illustrated exactly why that was the case.
The 25-year-old has looked comfortable with the ball at his feet, but sometimes too comfortable, and the less said about his shot-stopping capabilities the better. In consequence of Runarsson’s shortcomings, Arsenal are said to be open to letting him leave on loan if a replacement no. 2 can be brought in this month.
With Brentford in the middle of another promotion charge, it’s unlikely they’d be willing to part ways with Arsenal’s primary target, David Raya. So, here are three potential alternative backup goalkeeper targets for Arsenal:
1. Daniel Subasic
Following a 9-year spell with Monaco, Daniel Subasic opted against renewing his contract with the French side. At 36-years-of-age, many expected him to hang up his gloves following his departure, but the Croatian is yet to formally announce his retirement.
Subasic enjoyed a number of stellar seasons with Monaco. His goals against/90 avearge never soured higher than 1.39 in any season when he was with the club and in 5 out of his 9 campaigns in Ligue 1, he managed to keep this average below 1. He served Monaco impressively.
Could he be tempted to return to the game aged 36 for one final hurrah? It’s worth enquiring about from an Arsenal viewpoint.
2. Matty Ryan
The strange case of Brighton’s Matty Ryan. The Australian started the season with his position as first-choice goalkeeper at Brighton secure, but has since lost his place to Robert Sanchez. It is now appears Ryan is the Seagulls’ no. 3 after Jason Steele started ahead of him against Newport in the FA Cup on Sunday.
Brighton boss Graham Potter has admitted that Ryan is free to leave if an adequate offer comes in for him in January. If he’s available for a small sum, a move for the 28-year-old really should be a no-brainer for Arsenal.
Ryan is comfortable with the ball at his feet, commanding vocally and a good shot stopper. Yes, he’s had a poor season so far, as illustrated by the fact he’s conceded 3 more goals than he’s been expected to by post-shot xG, but that doesn’t mean his form is irrecoverable.
Over the course of the last few seasons, Ryan has shown he is one of the Premier League’s better goalkeepers and would be more than an adequate understudy for Bernd Leno.
3. Martin Dubravka
Another Premier League goalkeeper who has lost his place as his team’s no. 1 is Newcastle’s Martin Dubravka. After an injury prohibited him from starting the season between the sticks for the Magpies, Dubravka has failed to displace Karl Darlow since his return to action.
The Slovakian goalkeeper enjoyed an absolutely fantastic 18/19 season with Newcastle. According to post-shot xG, Dubravka was expected to concede a monumental 10 goals more than he actually did. A credit to his impressive work between the sticks.
The 31-year-old is the pick of the bunch out of the three goalkeepers mentioned in this article. Whether or not he is available is unknown, but Dubravka is far too good to be a no. 2 at Newcastle. At a bigger club like Arsenal, Dubravka would likely be more be more content with regularly sitting on the bench. It’d definitely be worth testing Newcastle’s resolve with this one.