Soccer

Mikel Arteta says having two top keepers at Arsenal ‘a necessity, not a gamble’

David Raya and Aaron Ramsdale will compete to be Arsenal’s first-choice goalkeeper this season (Rhianna Chadwick/John Walton/PA)
David Raya and Aaron Ramsdale will compete to be Arsenal’s first-choice goalkeeper this season (Rhianna Chadwick/John Walton/PA) David Raya and Aaron Ramsdale will compete to be Arsenal’s first-choice goalkeeper this season (Rhianna Chadwick/John Walton/PA)

Mikel Arteta insists it is not a gamble to have two top goalkeepers at his disposal after Arsenal completed the loan signing of David Raya last week.

The 27-year-old Spain international has joined from Brentford on a season-long deal in a move that cost the Gunners £3million and can be made permanent next year for £27million.

Raya has been a long-term target for Arsenal, who have sold fellow goalkeeper Matt Turner to Nottingham Forest and loaned Alex Runarsson to Cardiff in recent days.

Bees boss Thomas Frank said on Friday he expects Raya to join Arsenal next summer, saying a loan move made no sense for a goalkeeper of his quality.

There has been widespread criticism of Arsenal’s decision to pit Raya against Aaron Ramsdale for the number one spot at the Emirates Stadium, with the likes of former Premier League goalkeepers Peter Schmeichel and Shay Given suggesting it is a bad idea.

Arteta, though, rebuffed such ideas as – along with the signings of Declan Rice, Kai Havertz and Jurrien Timber – he aims to take Arsenal from runners-up to Premier League champions this term.

“It’s not a gamble, it’s a necessity,” Arteta replied when asked if he was confident his squad would accept his gamble of providing extra competition for places.

“There is not another way. The difference between tier one and what you call ‘tier-two players’ is too big. How do you resolve that? We can bring excellent players from the academy but unfortunately today we don’t have somebody so ready to make that step.

“We have to create that environment. It’s not a competition, it’s to raise the level and the demands that we are going to be facing.

“When you see the other squads, where they have two very good goalkeepers, they spend £60, £80, £85million on goalkeepers. What does that mean? We want to do it in our own way and I’m extremely happy with the squad that we are building.

“We are going to keep building a better squad. That is what the game is going to require, what the Premier League and Champions League are going to require. It’s very simple.”

Raya is likely to start out on the bench in north London as current incumbent Ramsdale retains his place in the side for Monday’s trip to Crystal Palace.

Aaron Ramsdale established himself as first-choice at the Emirates Stadium last year
Aaron Ramsdale established himself as first-choice at the Emirates Stadium last year Aaron Ramsdale established himself as first-choice goalkeeper at the Emirates Stadium last year (Nick Potts/PA)

The England international, 25, was quizzed about the impending arrival of Raya ahead of the Community Shield win over Manchester City and simply said “bring it on” when asked about competing to be first choice.

Asked about Ramsdale’s reaction since Raya joined last week, Arteta added: “Very positive, the way I see them training. I saw a training session they did the other day and it was fantastic.

“The connection that they have straight away is really good. But this is something that doesn’t surprise me. It’s something I expect from players.

“It is the same as I expected when I bought Declan – what is the reaction? Hopefully, really really positive, because the team wants to be better.

“If the reaction is that he doesn’t want to be better, then I would be worried, because it would mean we hadn’t created the environment that we want at this club.”