Arsenal sign Icelandic goalkeeper Alex Runarsson: Who is the Gunners’ new recruit?

Arsenal have signed Icelandic goalkeeper Alex Runarsson from Ligue 1 side Dijon for a fee of £1.8m, with the 25 year-old choosing to wear the number 13 for the Gunners. 

Runarsson, who stands at 6’1″ according to Transfermarkt, is expected to act as backup to Bernd Leno after the exit of Emiliano Martinez to Aston Villa, with the funds received from the deal set to go towards other transfer targets.

However, Arsenal may not be finished in the goalkeeper market, with the Telegraph reporting that a move for Brentford goalkeeper, David Raya, is also being pursued by the Gunners after a £10m bid was rejected.

This seems confusing for Arsenal fans because if Raya signs, there would not appear to be much point in selling Martinez, unless of course the club have more money to spend then they are making out. However, as things stand, Runarsson will act as the club’s number two goalkeeper, for now.

As the Icelandic shot-stopper comes to England being fairly unknown, here’s a little bit about the former Dijon goalkeeper, including his past and some of his stats from last season.

Runar Alex Runarsson started his career at KR Reykjavík before moving to Danish first division side Nordsjaelland in 2014. After spending four years in Denmark and making a total of 62 appearances for the Superliga club, the Icelandic was given the opportunity to play Ligue 1 football by Dijon.

Alex Runarsson made 11 league appearances for Dijon last season, conceding 17 goals and failing to keep a clean sheet. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY THE TELEGRAPH.

However, in the two years he spent at the French club, he played a total of 45 games, conceding 78 goals and keeping a total of just seven clean sheets. Furthermore, in Ligue 1 last season, the Icelandic goalkeeper averaged 3.1 saves per90 and recorded a 64.5% save percentage. To put that into some perspective, Bernd Leno, in the 2019/20 Premier League season, made on average 3.9 saves per90 while maintaining an impressive 74.3% save percentage.

While Runarsson does not boast the best shot stopping stats, where he impresses is with his feet, which new manager Mikel Arteta will like. Talking to Arsenal Digital, Runarsson mentioned that he considers his ability on the ball as one of his strengths with him saying: “I would say I am a modern goalkeeper. It is one of my best attributes that I am comfortable with my feet, I can play with my right and left foot.”

The stats back up the Icelandic’s claims too, with the former Dijon man smashing Bernd Leno in this regard. In the league last season, Runarsson attempted 13.9 long passes p90 and recorded a very impressive 43.3% success rate, compared with Leno who attempted 10 p90 and had a success rate of just 25%.

To further demonstrate how impressive these stats are, Emiliano Martinez in the Premier League last season attempted 12.8 long passes with a success rate of 30%, and the Argentinian was considered one of the best ball playing goalkeepers in the league. Runarsson also completed 18 forward passes per90, compared to 13.9 and 14.4 for Leno and Martinez, showing he likes to get the ball forward, but also with accuracy.

Overall, Arsenal fans can expect some very good distribution from their new goalkeeper, however, in my opinion, his shot stopping is a slight worry, even though the Dijon defence is far from the strongest.

It seems the goalkeeper made his way to Arsenal through the connection he has with the Gunners’ current goalkeeper coach Inaki Cana, who worked with him during their spells at Nordsjaelland.

Alex Runarsson in training yesterday after being announced as an Arsenal player on the same day. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY THE EVENING STANDARD.

Hopefully, given Cana has trained him before, he will be able to bring the best out of him. However, even if he fails to do so, the price tag is so minimal that Arsenal will be able to sell him if it doesn’t work out.

*all stats provided by Transfermarkt and Squawka.

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