David Raya says his move to Arsenal is “a beautiful challenge” and that he’s ready to adapt quickly to the demands of manager Mikel Arteta.
The Spain international moves to Emirates Stadium on a year-long loan deal after the Gunners and Brentford worked together to reach an agreement that would resolve the player’s future as quickly as possible.
Arsenal have paid a £3 million loan fee initially and Raya, who was due to become a free agent next summer, has penned a new two-year contract at the Community Stadium which protects his value in case the Gunners want to make the deal permanent next summer.
Interestingly, Brentford director of football Phil Giles has said he doesn’t expect Raya to return.
In his first interview with his new club, Raya said: “I spoke to the boss [Arteta] and he sent me the values of what Arsenal are about now and the group of lads that we have here, the way that the club is going, is growing even more. So it’s a beautiful challenge to take and I couldn’t say no.”
He also confirmed the Gunners’ playing style was particularly attractive to him, adding: “I’ve seen Arsenal a lot for a lot of years and since [Mikel] came he’s made a massive difference to the style of play and to the club.
“The way the team plays out of the back, being confident and taking possession to the other team is the main thing why I fit into the team. I’m going to try and help as much as possible and we’ll see what happens.”
Arsenal tried to sign David Raya two years ago but were thwarted by Brentford who were keen to retain the keeper for their first year in the Premier League. The recommendation came from goalkeeper coach Inaki Cana, who had worked with Raya for six months while also on the books of the Bees.
Raya is excited to be reunited with his compatriot who he credits with opening his eyes to a new way of operating between the sticks.
“Inaki is very demanding but he’s a very good goalie coach,” the 27-year-old reflected.
“He’s always onto you but he only wants you to be the best. I felt so much better when I started training with him and in the space of six months, he changed my vision of a goalkeeper and the way I played back at Blackburn to how I played at Brentford.
“He was the first one to change my mindset to see different aspects of goalkeeping.”
In the short term, Raya wants to get to know his new teammates and, in particular, his fellow keepers.
“I can’t wait to be out there and to train with the lads and get that GK union going. Obviously, that’s a tight group and we’re always going to get along and push each other.
“I like to think in the short term. I like to take it day by day and obviously, the first thing is just settling, getting to know the players, settling with the coaching staff and with the staff around the club, that’s the most important thing. And then from there, just day by day, trying to compete at the highest level I can and when I have the chance, just to try and help the team as much as possible to win points.”