Arsenal are in the market for a back-up goalkeeper to Bernd Leno following Emilian Martinez’s rumored move to Aston Villa. The Argentine performed admirably as a back-up for the Gunners during his eight seasons at the Emirates. His impressive performances towards the end of last season were vital for Arsenal’s fine form. But, his demand for first-team action has understandably left manager Mikel Arteta with a difficult decision.
Runar Alex Runarsson is one of the many names linked to the vacant backup goalkeeper spot. Arsenal’s goalkeeping coach Inaki Cana’s experience of having worked with the shot-stopper at Nordsjaelland has been one of the reasons for the Gunners’ interest.
Runar Alex Runarsson: The Successor to Emiliano Martinez
Runar Alex Runarsson comes from Icelandic football royalty. He was born in the capital, Reykjavik, in 1995 to Iceland legend Runar Kristinsson. Like his father, Runarsson started his footballing journey with one of the country’s footballing giants, KR Reykjavik. The shot-stopper rose through the ranks in the youth system and made his professional debut for his boyhood club in 2013.
The youngster earned a move to Danish club Nordsjaelland 2014 after making just four appearances for KR. It took a while for Runarsson to adjust to the Danish League, but by the 2017/18 season, he was the first choice for the club. He moved to Dijon in France as a replacement for Toulouse-bound Baptiste Reynet in 2018 after impressing the Dijon scouts.
Runarsson played 31 matches in his debut season for the Ligue 1 side. Despite the leaky defense in front of him, he still kept six clean sheets as Dijon finished 18th. However, following the arrival of Alfred Gomis last season, the youngster has had less match time.
Runarsson is also a full Iceland international having made his debut for the national side in 2017.
Runarsson has a similar shot-blocking style to Manchester United’s David De Gea. The Iceland international loves stopping shots with his feet and is very good in one-v-one situations. Like the Spaniard, the young custodian is also very athletic.
At 6’1″, he is not the biggest goalkeeper around but can’t easily be bullied due to his strength. One of his major drawbacks, though, is his ability to deal with crosses. There are also questions about his ball-handling skills.
On the positive side, Runarsson is a technically sound goalkeeper. He is good with the ball at his feet and is impressive with his distribution.
Dijon’s chief scout Sebastien Larcier described the youngster after his move to Dijon in 2018: “When we discovered his profile, the interest was immediately strong. He is technically talented, he is not afraid to play high and has very good footwork. In addition, he has the temperament and charisma”.
Runarsson is a player who is very suited to Arteta’s system at Emirates. The Icelandic international is comfortable with the ball at his feet, something that Arteta wants. He is a full international and has experience playing as a first-choice goalkeeper.
With Leno undoubtedly Arsenal’s first choice, Runarsson would be a cheap and impressive addition as a second-choice keeper. At just 25-years-old, he is far from his peak years and can maybe become Arsenal’s first choice in the future.