Mikel Arteta has hinted that Alex Runarsson will be retained for the rest of the season after stating he needs three goalkeepers capable of competing with one another.
Earlier this the month, the Spaniard suggested the Iceland international, signed from Dijon at the end of the summer transfer window, had been a stop-gap purchase and that he’d be open to letting him leave on loan. However, following the recruitment of Mat Ryan from Brighton, he seems happy for the new boys to battle it out for the right to be the club’s second-choice keeper.
“That area of the squad needs three goalkeepers and they need to compete with each other, challenge each other and everyone will get their role,” Arteta said after Saturday’s defeat to Southampton.
“After you have your role, you just have to support each other again to get the best out of each other. This is the role, come here and try to make it better.”
Having exited the League Cup and FA Cup, it’ll be interesting to see who gets the nod between the sticks in the Europa League.
It’s a competition that Ryan has played in 28 times during stints with Club Brugge, Valencia and Genk. He also has considerable Premier League experience, racking up more than 100 appearances for Brighton. Years of regular game time were important factors in signing off on a loan deal.
“He is a player who knows the league really well,” said Arteta. “He has played so many games, he has international experience, he is at the right age, he has been competing regularly until December.
“We felt with the departure of Matt Macey, we needed another keeper in the team to give more protection so we looked at the market and we wanted a loan deal and we decided to go with Mat because he had the right profile for us.”
Asked if the deal might be made permanent in the summer, Arteta added: “I don’t know, he’s just arrived. It’s a loan deal and he still has a contract with Brighton and we will assess to see how he performs, see how he adapts, what we need in the future. It’s still too early to decide.”