Are Arsenal Taking The Cheap Option Again? by Dan Smith
Emiliano Martinez moved to England at the age of 18 so his dream most of his adult life was to be Arsenal’s number One. Since June onwards the Argentine could not have done more to convince people he’s better than Leno.
The strange irony is; had Leno never got injured, Martinez never played, and never had been such a huge part in us winning the FA Cup, he would still have a future at the Emirates. It seems backwards that by playing so well has cost him his Gunners career.
Of course the 16 -20 million Aston Villa are willing to pay is a major reason. At a time when clubs don’t know when they are getting match-day revenue that’s a lot of money for someone who might be sitting on the bench most weekends.
Whether he stayed or left, Martinez will be rewarded for his form with a substantial pay rise, but in some ways he has become a victim of his own success. The classic ‘too big to be small but too small to be big’ situation.
Clearly his employers wanted him to be good enough to stand in for Leno while the German recovered from his injury, but they didn’t want him to be so great that it caused a selection headache.
Arteta claims he’s happy to have two talents battling for one spot, but whether the Spaniard didn’t reassure him enough, or the player lacked the self-belief to bet on himself to succeed, Martinez strangely got closer and closer to the exit door with each passing world class performance.
While he was offered a contract extension, Arsenal didn’t need to sell. There were still a few years left on his existing deal so if the priority was having two top keepers, we didn’t need to take the money. We did because, when push comes to shove, making our billionaire owner profit will always take precedent over what’s best on the pitch.
Which sends a strange message to the likes of Matt Macey. Develop so you’re good enough to play for a club our size but we will sell you if you become too good.
That could explain why reports are suggesting that the recruitment team are now preferring Runar Runarsson to Brentford’s David Raya. The key difference is one cost 1.5 million the other over the 10 million mark.
Runarsson is Dijon’s back-up keeper, so logic would say he will be happier for the same role at a club with a bigger profile. Raya meanwhile plays every week in the Championship so would have long term ambitions of starting every week in the League.
So from a business point of view, you can pay over 10 million for a potential headache or take 1.5 million out of the money you’re about to get from Villa, for someone content to be a substitute and tell Stan Kroenke how you yet again saved him some money.
That would be okay if Arsenal (like a lot of clubs) hadn’t adopted a policy of having a ‘cup keeper’. If you insist on having someone different between the posts for Cup games, you need someone who has to be at a certain standard, because the cups are particularly important to the Gunners and remain our most likely route to silverware.
At a minimum, a ‘cup keeper’ will be asked to play 6 times in Europe, once in the League Cup and once in the FA Cup. That’s if you went out of those competitions at the first stage. If you used the last campaign as a forecast, we played 16 matches that were not in the Premiership.
So if I’m a Raya, I’m going to pick playing in the cups for Arsenal compared to in the second level of English Football as a quicker route to prove I belong at the highest level. Yet do Arsenal want that? Or are they yet again prioritizing value over what’s best for the squad?
That’s not a disrespect to Runarsson who clearly has quality and I accept is a goalie we have scouted for a while, as we have Raya. Yet the numbers suggest Raya is better.
Raya played 46 times last season, having played nearly 200 times for Blackburn.
Runarsson isn’t first choice for either his club or country.
You could argue that the lower Leagues doesn’t mean Raya has proved himself, but it means he knows the country and I would argue getting 3rd in the Championship as first choice is better than finishing 16th in Ligue One and not being first choice.
We all know the numbers Arsenal are looking at. The 1.5million Dijon have to take as they were badly hit by Football being canceled in France from March.
These are the little details why I feel we won’t challenge for the title again with the current ownership.
If I had to bet, I reckon Arteta rates Raya over Runarsson (we have coaches who have worked with him) but is smart enough to pick his battles. Who is Leno’s understudy isn’t Arteta’s his hill to die on?
Yet it could be a crucial decision come the knockout stages of the FA Cup or Europa League, if what has cost us is not spending that extra few quid on a proven goalie. We are going to get 16-20 million for one keeper. Spend 10 of that you get a keeper your manager has asked for.
Do you think Man City would cough up 10 million?
Would that be too expensive for a Man United?
Do you think Chelsea would find a cheaper option?
It’s funny. I swore I heard that we only made 55 staff redundant so we could improve the squad.
I guess the 2 million a year Silent Stan saves on their annual wage would pay for Runarsson.
So what happens to the Martinez money?
Oh wait …. that pays for the majority of Gabriel’s fee.
Meanwhile at the Bridge, they spent nearly 200 million…