Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson: Things to Know About the Arsenal-Bound Goalkeeper

Arsenal have had to part ways with numerous players who had once been the darlings of the Gunners faithful only to burn each and every bridge with an acrimonious departure. The same, however, cannot be said for the Aston Villa-bound Emi Martínez.

Thanks to an eye-catching run in the side capped off by triumph in the FA Cup final, the Argentinian goalkeeper became a firm fan favourite last season. A status that was cemented further by a teary post-match interview at Wembley.

Before joining Villa, Martínez bid an emotional farewell to the Arsenal fans, signing off in humble style.

Martínez's touted replacement for Bernd Leno's back-up, Dijon keeper Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson, is a relative unknown in north London. Though his predecessor wasn't particularly well renowned too long ago. However, at 25 years of age, Rúnarsson can't exactly afford to wait ten years before breaking into the first team.

1. Footballing Father

Rúnarsson's father - Rúnar Kristinsson (they don't share a surname thanks to the traditional Icelandic naming system) - remains the record appearance maker for the Icelandic national football team to this day, with 104 caps to his name.

Rúnarsson has only made five appearances for his country but was a part of the 2018 World Cup and sat on the bench for Iceland's recent 1-0 loss to England.

2. Accidentally Became a Goalkeeper

Rúnarsson followed in his father's footsteps by taking up the same profession, but Kristinsson was a distinguished midfielder.

Initially, his son was also an outfield player and only discovered the joys of standing between the sticks thanks to a quirk of fate.

After surgery for a burst appendix as a child, Rúnarsson - desperate to return to football - didn't immediately have the strength to charge up and down the pitch and so threw on a pair of gloves instead.

He hasn't looked back since.

3. Not a Fan of Arsène Wenger

As so often is the fate of the modern footballer, Rúnarsson was forced to trawl back through his Twitter feed to delete some less than complimentary tweets about the club's legendary manager Arsène Wenger according to The Sun.

On 21 April 2011 - the day after Arsenal squandered a 3-1 north London derby lead which dealt a significant blow to their title tilt - Rúnarsson supposedly wrote: "Hell, this Wenger guy is stupid."

In June that year he added: "Arsene Wenger is a little too stupid #frenchf***."

In the week that Cesc Fàbregas' transfer to Barcelona was confirmed Rúnarsson tweeted: "Arsene Wenger is definitely the dumbest man on this planet #frenchf***."

While expletive-ridden criticisms of a club legend are never recommended, it does at least hint at the possibility Rúnarsson was an Arsenal fan or at least had a vested interest in their proceedings.

4. Familiar With Arsenal Goalkeeping Coach

Rúnarsson - like his father - will be playing football in a fourth country if he does indeed complete a move to Arsenal.

After leaving KR Reykjavik as a teenager, Rúnarsson spent four seasons playing in the Danish top flight with FC Nordsjælland. There he teamed up with goalkeeping coach Iñaki Caña - who is a member of Mikel Arteta's staff at Arsenal.

The pair combined for Runársson's best season in Denmark as he played every minute while the club recorded an impressive third-place finish.

5. Worrisome Shot-Stopping Stats

An excellent way of assessing a goalkeeper's shot-stopping prowess is the difference between the number of goals conceding and the post-shot expected goals (PSxG) they have faced.

To calculate PSxG, every shot on target is assigned a number between zero and one representing the probability of that effort beating a goalkeeper based on the strike's trajectory, speed and other characteristics. The sum of these values gives an estimate of the number of goals the model predicts a keeper facing these efforts to concede.

So - deep breath - if a goalie is letting in more goals than their PSxG they're either unlucky or below par at shot-stopping, and the opposite can be assumed if their goals against tally is less than the prediction.

Rúnarsson - if you haven't guessed by now - is not done any favours by this particular metric.

In his debut campaign with Dijon he shipped eight goals more than his PSxG - only one Ligue 1 keeper had a worse record according to Football Reference. Last season, having been dropped as the club's first-choice, he again conceded more goals than his PSxG and ranked second-worst in the French top flight when adjusted for minutes played.

6. Charity Work

Rúnarsson joined the charity Common Goal - which was founded with the help of Manchester United's Juan Mata - while at FC Nordsjælland in November 2017.

FC Nordsjælland's sporting director Carsten V. Jensen gave Rúnarsson a glowing recommendation when he left for Dijon in 2018, telling the club's website: "Besides being a skilled goalkeeper, it is also a top-class person we say goodbye to.

"From day one, Alex has proven to be a reliable player. He has worked hard and at the same time represented the club and the values ​​in an excellent way."

Source : 90min