Levante’s goalkeeper, Aitor Fernandez, has confirmed that Arsenal have been in touch with him to discuss a move to London.

BARCELONA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 02: Aitor Fernandez of Levante UD looks on during the Liga match between FC Barcelona and Levante UD at Camp Nou on February 02, 2020 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN – FEBRUARY 02: Aitor Fernandez of Levante UD looks on during the Liga match between FC Barcelona and Levante UD at Camp Nou on February 02, 2020 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Arsenal sold Emi Martinez to Aston Villa during the summer transfer window and, while they brought in Runar Runarsson, he was never intended to be number two at the club. Rather, he’s a replacement for Matt Macey as he sees out the final year of his contract.

As such, Arsenal are on the lookout for a number two and are seemingly looking away from Brentford after David Raya signed a new deal, although that does contain a release clause for next summer

“Yes, it’s true that there have been contacts,” Fernandez told AS, via Sport Witness, when they asked if Arsenal and Athletic Bilbao had been in touch. “Quite a few clubs have asked, and those are two of them. But here I have been very happy, and I hope to continue being so.”

Barcelona's Guinea-Bissau forward Ansu Fati (R) challenges Levante's Spanish goalkeeper Aitor Fernandez during the Spanish league football match be tween FC Barcelona and Levante UD at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, on February 2, 2020. (Photo by LLUIS GENE / AFP)
Barcelona’s Guinea-Bissau forward Ansu Fati (R) challenges Levante’s Spanish goalkeeper Aitor Fernandez during the Spanish league football match be tween FC Barcelona and Levante UD at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, on February 2, 2020. (Photo by LLUIS GENE / AFP)

The 29-year-old signed for Levante in the summer of 2018, moving from CD Numancia for £900,000. He signed a five year contract which will not expire until 2023 and it seems as if he’s not overly keen on giving up a number one shirt to warm Arsenal’s bench.

Rúnarsson admits Martinez’s Arsenal story inspired him

by Dan Critchlow

Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson says Emi Martinez’s fight for the number one spot at Arsenal inspires him to make the same push for appearances.

ST ALBANS, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 21: Arsenal goalkeeping coach Ianki Cana Pavon with new signing Alex Runarsson during a training session at London Colney on September 21, 2020 in St Albans, England. (Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
ST ALBANS, ENGLAND: Arsenal goalkeeping coach Inaki Cana Pavon with new signing Alex Runarsson on September 21, 2020. (Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson effectively joined Arsenal as a replacement for Emi Martinez this summer. Although he’s still waiting on his debut, he made the bench for all four matches since his arrival, in both the Premier League and the League Cup.

Bernd Leno is the clear number one, and likely to remain in goal regardless of the competition Arsenal are playing in. But Rúnarsson will get his chance eventually, and he says Martinez inspires him to make sure he’s ready for it.

“I read an interview with him a couple of days ago and he said he came in as the ninth-choice goalkeeper, but he worked his a*se off to become the first-choice at Arsenal after Leno’s injury,” Rúnarsson told Goal.

“Then, he makes a brilliant move to Aston Villa for £20m. That should inspire everyone, not just me. That’s my plan: to work my a*se off, enjoy every minute of it, and get as many games as possible.

“I know it is going to be hard. But I will work for it for every minute and do what’s necessary to get as many games as possible. I think the only person I can rely on for this is myself, so I know that and I will try to do it.”

The 25-year-old already has one advantage at Arsenal, knowing goalkeeper coach Inaki Cana well. They worked together at FC Nordsjælland in Denmark, and they clearly get along with each other, based on the things they’ve said.

It’s Mikel Arteta that Rúnarsson needs to impress now, just like Martinez did. A nice cup draw and some dominant early Europa League performances would certainly help him get on the pitch too.

Aitor Fernandez stats

VALENCIA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 22: Aitor Fernandez of Levante UD celebrates his sides first goal during the La Liga match between Levante UD and Real Madrid CF at Ciutat de Valencia on February 22, 2020 in Valencia, Spain. (Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images)
VALENCIA, SPAIN – FEBRUARY 22: Aitor Fernandez of Levante UD celebrates his sides first goal during the La Liga match between Levante UD and Real Madrid CF at Ciutat de Valencia on February 22, 2020 in Valencia, Spain. (Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images)

Aitor Fernandez has conceded 11 goals this season in seven games with zero cleansheets so far.

His PSxG (post-shot expected goals) for the season is 8.4 so, like Bernd Leno, he is slightly underperforming.

Aitor Fernandez has faced 23 shots on target and saved 11 of them giving him a save percentage of 52. Leno has faced 31 shots on target, saving 67.7% (22).

Martinez, for those I know asking, has saved 70% of the shots on target he’s faced with Aston Villa, but, as I discuss here, he is slightly over-performing compared to Leno performing below expectations.

[stats source]

Aitor Fernandez in action

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