David Raya had surprise loan spell in non-league – and conceded five to Woking

David Raya has gone from non-league struggler to Champions League contender following his loan move to Arsenal.

The Brentford hero, who became a Spain international with two caps last year, came through the youth academy at Blackburn Rovers at was sent out on loan to Southport on Merseyside in the National League.

Then called the Conference Premier, a teenage Raya would make 16 appearances and concede 24 goals in the division as and his team-mates slipped to a 19th place finish and end up just six points from the relegation zone.

Raya would only experience wins from six of his 16 starts – conceding three against Macclesfield and Lincoln City – and five against Woking.

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Scott Rendell's hat-trick put Raya to the sword in the 5-2 defeat – which might well have been the lowest point of his now surging career.

Raya returned to Blackburn and made a total of 108 appearances before joining Brentford for a fee of £3million back in 2019.

Two seasons later he would be a Premier League regular, kicking things off with a 2-0 win over Arsenal – after which he got a commemorative tattoo.

He played in every fixture of their second Premier League season but wasn't involved in their opening game this campaign with a move to Arsenal on the cards.

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He has since joined Arsenal for a £3m loan fee with option of a £27m permanent move at the end of the season should be impress in competing with Aaron Ramsdale.

The England international says he is more than ready to fight for the shirt under Mikel Arteta, with Raya, 27, keen to do the same.

He said: "I can't wait to be out there training with the lads and getting that GK union going.

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"That’s a tight group that we’re always going to get along and push each other, so that’s going to be a healthy group in my opinion. I just can’t wait to get going and meet the lads.

"One of the challenges is to get used to the style and the patterns, and get to know the players as soon as possible to get that bond from the beginning.

"Knowing the players and the staff, I think they’re going to put me in the right direction and I’ll fit in straight away."

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