Arsenal have completed the signing of Brentford goalkeeper David Raya on an initial £3m loan deal with a £27m option to buy next summer.
The £27m option could become an obligation depending if certain conditions are met, primarily appearances.
The Spanish goalkeeper, who signed for £3m from Blackburn in the summer of 2019, has also extended his contract with Brentford by two years, with a club option for an additional 12 months.
Raya now joins the Gunners goalkeeper department to compete with current No 1 Aaron Ramsdale after Matt Turner completed a £10m move to Nottingham Forest last week.
Gunners sporting director Edu said: “We welcome David to us on a season-long loan from Brentford. David is a top-quality goalkeeper, who has consistently performed to a high level with Brentford in the Premier League.
“With David joining us we are adding quality and depth to our squad so we can perform at the highest possible level in all competitions.”
‘Raya’s contract extension with Brentford a fall-back position’
On the structure of the deal, Brentford director of football Phil Giles said: “I’m sure the first question that all Brentford fans will ask is why this transfer has been structured as an initial loan with Arsenal having the option to make it permanent in the future. The answer to that is simply that it enables this deal to be done more rapidly between both clubs, with all parties wanting to make this a permanent transfer as soon as practically possible, whenever that might be.
“David’s contract extension is a fall-back position in the event that the transfer is not made permanent. I’m not expecting to see David back at Brentford, although if ever that happened then of course the opportunity to work with such a high-class goalkeeper for up to two more years would in many ways be an unexpected bonus for us.
“David has been a magnificent goalkeeper for us. He thoroughly deserves his move to a Champions League club and the next step in his career. In our view he is one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League and will show himself to be one of the best in the world in the next few seasons.”
Raya has been an integral part of the Brentford team in recent seasons, playing in all 38 of their Premier League matches last season.
The 27-year-old, who has 20 clean sheets to his name in 62 Premier League games, made 161 appearances in all competitions for the Bees and has two caps for Spain.
Who will be first choice – Raya or Ramsdale?
Sky Sports News senior reporter Melissa Reddy:
“There will be no automatic first-choice goalkeeper at Arsenal when the deal for David Raya is finalised with Mikel Arteta and Edu having designed the recruitment strategy this summer to ensure greater competition for starting spots in the squad.
“It was marked as one area that could solidify the club’s status as serious title contenders. It was also flagged as an area Arsenal have been significantly weak in during recent history.
“The strategy has been communicated to both new signings and existing players in the squad – including Raya and Aaron Ramsdale. It can also be seen in the case of Declan Rice and Thomas Partey. The external perception was that the Ghanaian would be sold after Arsenal completed their club-record signing of Rice but this was contrary to Arteta’s plan.
“The manager has told players he wants them to compete at the highest level amongst themselves in every position if they expect to regularly win major honours.
“It is understood that Ramsdale has welcomed the challenge of competing with Raya and believes it will push both goalkeepers to elevate their game.”
Why did Arsenal move for Raya?
Arsenal’s goalkeeping coach Inaka Cana is a key aspect of the club’s long-term interest in Raya.
Cana was previously the goalkeeping coach at Brentford and played a major part in Raya signing for the Bees from Blackburn in the summer of 2019.
They were both born in Barcelona and Cana has followed Raya’s progress since his time as a youth player at Cornella, a smaller team based in the city.
Raya has spoken glowingly of Cana several times, especially amid Arsenal’s interest in him again in 2021.
“He has helped me loads,” Raya said. “He’s a completely different character on the pitch, he’s very hardworking, very tough, and I think every goalkeeper who’s worked from him will tell you the same.
“You learn a lot, he puts you on your toes all the time, and he never lets you go down a level. He wants every single exercise 110 per cent, you cannot go 80. If you go 80, you cannot catch up, it’s impossible.”
The pair are understood to have remained friends despite Cana moving to Arsenal in December 2019 after just six months of working closely together.
Cana and Arsenal are understood to believe Raya fits the way Mikel Arteta’s team play especially with his passing ability playing out from the back.
Ramsdale’s message to Raya: Bring it On
Current Arsenal No 1 Ramsdale has been the regular in goal for two years after ousting Bernd Leno at the Emirates in 2021, but risks losing his spot with Raya coming in.
Ramsdale told ITV Sport when asked about fresh competition in goal: “Bring it on. You know nothing comes easy in football but also at the same time you need to move along and need to adapt as well.
“I’ve done it to other people when I’ve moved to clubs so I’m not going to be thinking that it’s never going to happen to me.
“If it happens, it happens and then we’ll fight and we’ll make each other the best version of ourselves because that’s what the manager is telling us as well.
“And I’m sure whoever plays – me, Matt [Turner], whoever comes in – the individual disappointment will go away and you put the team first and you put that goalkeeper first as well.”
Analysis: Raya’s rise from non-League Southport to Arsenal
No goalkeeper was used more – by his team-mates and the opposition players – last season.
Raya faced the most shots, made the most saves, claimed the second-most crosses, made more touches and completed the most passes out of all the other top-flight goalkeepers last season.
But what we have seen is a clear similarity between the way Arsenal and Brentford build up from the back with Cana working with both teams. In fact, their goal kick paths are almost identical.
Sky Sports spoke to some of Raya’s former coaches to discover how the Spaniard went from non-League club Southport to the Premier League…
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