Brentford are bracing themselves for the departure of David Raya who has agreed to join Arsenal in a reported £30m deal. With the Spanish keeper unwilling to sign a contract, it’s a departure that was anticipated but it does leave the Bees a bit light in the goalkeeping department. We’ll take a look at who could replace David Raya at Brentford.
That’s a question that Brentford haven’t really needed to consider until this summer. Raya has been their undisputed first choice since joining from Blackburn Rovers in 2019. The 27-year-old has played a part in some of the best years in Brentford’s history with the club winning promotion to the Premier League for the first time in 2021 and securing an impressive top-half finish last term.
Unquestionably, Raya’s exit leaves a big void. The Spaniard played every minute in the Premier League last term and hasn’t missed a game since sustaining a knee injury midway through the 2021/22 season.
Who could replace David Raya? – Three options
Brentford have already signed a goalkeeper this summer with Mark Flekken joining the club from SC Freiburg in an £11.2m deal. His tally of 13 clean sheets was the highest in the Bundesliga last term as the club surprisingly qualified for Europe so the 30-year-old should arrive full of confidence after an excellent season.
Flekken, who has won four caps for The Netherlands, looks the most likely candidate to be David Raya’s replacement. He has been Brentford’s primary goalkeeper during pre-season which saw the club take part in the Premier League Summer Series in the United States. It wasn’t a very convincing showing from the new arrival though with Thomas Frank’s side letting in 8 goals in 3 matches against Fulham, Brighton and Aston Villa.
Brentford kick off their Premier League campaign against Tottenham on Saturday. They are likely to go with Flekken in goal in that game if their pre-season matches are anything to go by. There was at least a more assured defensive display in their final pre-season game as Flekken played the full 90 minutes in a 0-0 draw against Lille.
An alternative option to take over from David Raya is Thomas Strakosha. Largely due to the excellence of the Spaniard, Strakosha’s time in London has been frustrating. Signed from Lazio last summer, the Albania international was restricted to just one EFL Cup and one FA Cup appearance last season and also suffered an ankle ligament injury which added to his woe.
There was talk of Strakosha leaving in January, but the departure of Raya does open the door slightly for the 28-year-old. He is an experienced goalkeeper having started more than 160 games for Lazio in Serie A and should have a better chance of competing with Flekken than was the case with Raya.
A New Signing
These may be slightly worrying times for Thomas Frank given how assured a presence David Raya has been for him over the past few years. Mark Flekken and Thomas Strakosha are both goalkeepers with a decent amount of top flight experience in other major European leagues and it does look likely that Brentford will start the new season with the pair as their main goalkeeping options without immediately adding to their summer arrivals.
However, should Flekken’s shaky pre-season form continue into the Premier League, Brentford may feel like the only safe option is to dive back into the transfer market. The Bees have London derbies against Tottenham, Fulham and Crystal Palace before the transfer window shuts.
Any new addition may be dependent on Thomas Strakosha departing given it’s unlikely Thomas Frank would want three senior goalkeepers in his squad. Strakosha’s limited involvement suggests the Dane does not have full confidence in the 28-year-old and Brentford’s goalkeeper situation may be something to keep an eye on over the next few weeks with pressure already on Flekken to show he’s up to the task of replacing Arsenal bound Raya.