Does Arsenal’s signing of David Raya signal the end of Aaron Ramsdale at the Emirates?

David Raya Arsenal Goalkeeper ST ALBANS, ENGLAND - AUGUST 15: Arsenal unveil new signing David Raya at London Colney on August 11, 2023 in St Albans, England.
(Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

The summer transfer window is a hectic time that throws up a lot of shock moves, some make perfect sense, and some, do not so much. One such transfer that falls into the category of a shock move is Arsenal signing goalkeeper David Raya from Brentford.

The Gunners have an established number one in England’s Aaron Ramsdale. So is the signing of David Raya a sign that Ramsdale’s days at the Emirates are numbered?

All the top clubs in the English Premier League have an established number-one goalkeeper, and they all have an able and capable backup keeper. But it’s virtually unheard of to have two number-one goalkeepers at a club. And this is exactly what Arsenal have done by signing David Raya.

The Gunners need to strengthen their squad

The Gunners are fighting on multiple fronts this season. They pushed Manchester City close in the Premier League last season, and thanks to their second-place finish, Arsenal are now back in the Champions League.

Mikel Arteta’s team are regarded as one of the favorites to win the Champions League, but will have their squad stretched whilst also focusing on another strong Premier League title challenge.

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Throughout the summer, Arsenal have recognized that if they are to successfully compete in the Premier League and Champions League, alongside the domestic cups, they will require a much stronger squad. So from that perspective, signing Raya stacks up.

Towards the end of last season, their limited squad struggled to keep up with the title challenge, when injuries to key players such as Saliba and Zinchenko directly correlated to a downturn in results. 

However, fellow Champions League teams such as Manchester City do not have two number-one keepers. Ederson is the undisputed number one at City, and all other goalkeepers at the club are merely there as cover.

Arteta has form

This isn’t the first time that Mikel Arteta has pulled a transfer stunt like this, as Germany’s Bernd Leno can testify.

Back in August 2021, Leno was set to go into the season as the Gunners’ number one keeper when Arsenal signed Aaron Ramsdale from Sheffield United for a deal totaling approximately £30 million.

Ramsdale played in 34 league games that season, Leno just the four. The German also played once in the FA Cup, and three times in the EFL Cup.

After just eight appearances in all competitions, 12 months after the arrival of Ramsdale, Leno left the club and transferred across London to Fulham.

Raya looks here to stay

The signing of David Raya is currently only a loan signing. But the reality of that situation is that he’s only come on loan so that Arsenal can satisfy financial fair play rules. The player also shares the same agent as Arsenal goalkeeping coach Inaki Cana. 

The deal is starting as a £3 million loan, but there is an option to buy for a further £27 million, which will become an obligation depending on how many matches the Spaniard plays.

Arsenal have invested a lot of time and effort to sign Raya. It stands to reason that the club hasn’t invested all this time and effort without the intention of Raya seriously competing for the number one spot at the Gunners.

The official line is that the two keepers have to fight it out for the number one position, but the reality may be different for Ramsdale. It might be harsh on Ramsdale, who has done little to nothing wrong.

However, it could simply be the case that Arteta sees David Raya as an upgrade. If this is the scenario, the former Sheffield United keeper either has to spend a lot of time keeping the bench warm or look for pastures new to continue his career.

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