'I told Mikel Arteta don't make controversial signing – he ignored me so I agreed to quit'

Mikel Arteta [L] and Steve Round had a disagreement over whether to sign David Raya (Image: (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images))

Mikel Arteta’s decision to ditch Aaron Ramsdale in favour of David Raya reportedly sparked a row with his top assistant coach. The Arsenal manager controversially opted to splash out on goalkeeper Raya last summer, making the Spaniard one of his four signings.

The Gunners hoped to build on an impressive 2022/23 season which saw them finish second in the Premier League, the goalkeeper position being one of them. But Raya’s addition proved a point of contention both in the media and among Gunners supporters, as Ramsdale had widely been expected to remain the first-choice goalkeeper for years to come.

Raya was signed on loan from Brentford for an initial fee of £3million, with an option to make the move permanent for an additional £27m, on August 15. But the decision caused friction among the Arsenal staff, with assistant coach Steve Round being one of those opposed to the transfer, according to The Athletic.

Round, who first coached Arteta as David Moyes’ assistant at Everton and joined Arsenal in 2019, was one of the manager’s most trusted lieutenants alongside Albert Stuivenberg. Yet he disagreed with the approach for Raya, believing that replacing Ramsdale would disrupt the carefully cultivated culture at Arsenal due to his popularity among the staff and players.

He also felt that the club should invest in other areas rather than allocating more resources to the goalkeeping department, especially since Ramsdale had signed a new contract just a few months earlier. But Arteta’s decision was already made.

The disagreement reportedly played a role in Round’s departure from Arsenal, which was announced as a ‘mutual agreement’ in July 2023, even before Raya’s signing. That sent a clear message to Arteta’s staff that the Gunners were always on the hunt for innovative solutions and would strive for squad improvements, no matter how small or brutal the decision seemed.

Arteta then promoted coaching prodigy Carlos Cuesta, 28, in Round’s stead. The Mallorcan, who speaks six languages, has become an increasingly influential figure at London Colney, even showcasing his intelligence in Amazon Prime’s 2022 ‘All or Nothing’ documentary. Cuesta’s promotion also served to demonstrate to Arteta’s younger staff that there was a pathway for them to climb the ranks within Arsenal.

Don’t miss…
Gary Lineker insists Arsenal title win would’ve caused big Man City ‘complaints’ [LATEST]
Transfer news – Man Utd deal approved, Man City told fee, Chelsea agreement [LATEST]
Marcus Rashford tipped for surprise Arsenal transfer after England snub [LATEST]

Raya [L] quickly replaced Aaron Ramsdale as first choice goalkeeper during the season (Image: Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Following Raya’s arrival, Arteta sparked more controversy and confusion by suggesting in a press conference that he might even substitute goalkeepers during matches if necessary, leading to questions over why they would spend so much money for two players in the same role. Yet the Spanish shot-stopper made his debut against Everton and, by September 17, had fully displaced Ramsdale for the No.1 spot.

Despite a shaky start and some high-profile mistakes, which Arteta and his team attributed to the intense external scrutiny, the 28-year-old soon justified his manager’s faith. His 16 clean sheets this season – a Premier League record – earned him the Golden Glove award as Arsenal narrowly missed out on the title by just two points.

Carlos Cuesta is one of the most respected young coaches in Europe (Image: Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

His move will be made permanent in the summer, with contract terms already settled. Ramsdale, on the other hand, is expected to leave after three years in north London.

The England shot-stopper had to accept watching on from the sidelines for much of the season. He only played twice since being dropped, both times against Brentford, due to Raya’s unavailability to play against his old team.

Source: https://www.express.co.uk/sport/football/1902608/Mikel-Arteta-Arsenal-Steve-Round-Raya-Ramsdale