Arsenal’s goalkeeping coach Inaki Cana previously worked with summer transfer target Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson at FC Nordsjælland.

Iceland goalkeeper Runar Alex Runarsson takes a goalkick against Mexico on March 23, 2018 in Santa Clara, California, during their international soccer friendly.
Iceland goalkeeper Runar Alex Runarsson takes a goal kick against Mexico on March 23, 2018. (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

According to the latest reports, Arsenal on the verge of completing a deal for Dijon goalkeeper Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson. Rúnarsson, who worked with Inaki Cana earlier in his career in Denmark, will sign a five-year deal after a medical early this week.

When evaluating the player, the issue is that he’s had such inconsistent game time. He hasn’t made an appearance this season, and he only made nine league starts in 2019/20.

To understand why Cana might have recommended the Iceland international, we need to look elsewhere. Let’s look at what the coach had to say about the goalkeeper back when they worked together.

“As soon as he arrived at the club I saw his potential,” Cana said in 2017. “We must not forget that he is only 22 years old (25 in 2020) and that he still has a lot of room for improvement, he is a goalkeeper who will have a great future.

“First of all, I have to say that Alex is a good person and an excellent professional. He always wants to improve and demands the maximum in every training session and in every game.

Runar Runarsson ia
Runar Runarsson ia

“He has an innate talent but above all a very large margin for improvement and a good competitive spirit.”

The statistics don’t look so great for Rúnarsson right now. His save success rate since the start of 2018/19 is only marginally better than Kepa’s was last season. Though the small sample size as a result of his inconsistent appearances may be a factor in that.

“Our relationship, since we got to know each other four years ago, has been very good,” Runarsson told “We have always been in contact even though I was playing in France and he was coaching here in England.

“The fact that he is here, it is very important to me that I know somebody here and I know that he knows my qualities, and what I need to improve and what I can bring to the club. I think we will be a very good match, for the second time in my career!”

We’ll just have to trust that Cana knows talent when he sees it. He did a great job with Bernd Leno and Emi Martinez, so we’ll see.