Arsenal goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez is set to leave the club to join Aston Villa for a reported price of £16million according to Sky Sports news.
The 28-year-old Argentine leaves The Gunners having only made a total of 38 first-team appearances despite signing for the club in 2010, making him the current longest-serving player at the club.
Martinez spent the majority of his time out on loan at various clubs, most notably Wolverhampton Wanderers and Getafe, however, broke into the first team during the Premier Leagues ‘project restart’ after first-choice keeper Bernd Leno was injured against Brighton and Hove Albion. Martinez put in a string of stellar performances between the sticks including a memorable win against Liverpool in the league and Manchester City and Chelsea as he helped Arsenal lift the Emirates FA Cup for a record 14th time.
Reason for leaving
Having spent the majority of his career playing backup, Martinez’s integral role in The Gunners late-season success has earned him the right to a move away in search for first-team football. Martinez’s agent, Lucas Martinez Quarta, told TyC Sports:
"He dreams of being the starting goalkeeper for the national team and he is willing to leave his home [at Arsenal] for the worthy cause of being Argentina’s number one."
Arsenal are blessed with having two strong goalkeepers in Leno and Martinez however Gunners boss, Mikel Arteta, has noted that it is difficult to guarantee regular football to either player, alluding to the potential departure of Martinez.
“It is very difficult to promise players game time or to be the first choice. It is part of this period in the market. We try to manage the situation as well as we can, all the time counting on what the players' expectations are, what we can achieve with them as a club and we are making decisions towards that.” said the Spaniard in his pre-match press conference at Fulham.
Martinez was not included in Arsenal's matchday squad against Fulham indicating the deal is all but done. He is set to join Aston Villa, despite late interest from Brighton and Hove Albion, on a 4 year deal with the fee potentially rising to £20million.
Martinez came from a poor family in Argentina and recalls in a recent interview with The Sun that he saw his father “crying late at night because he couldn’t afford to pay the bills”.
Aged 17 at the time, Martinez played for the Independiente academy in Buenos Aires and lived a few hours away from home so he only saw his family twice a month; he insists he “had to be brave” when Arsenal offered for him, he said "yes" for his parents who somedays didn’t eat just to feed his brother.
He recalls: “My mum Susana and my brother Alejandro were crying when I was leaving for London and saying ‘Please don’t go’.” Martinez’s rise has been a slow one but in the long run it has proved to be a wise decision by the young boy from Argentina.
As per The Daily Mail Arsenal have registered interest in signing Brentford keeper, David Raya, to fill the open spot vacated by Martinez in a deal worth £10million. However, new reports have broken suggesting The Gunners are looking to Dijon shot-stopper, Runar Alex Runarsson, as an alternative who would come at a cost cut price of around £2million.
Funds from Martinez’s sale may also be used towards midfield options such as Thomas Partey and Houssem Aouar, which has been identified as a priority by technical director Edu Gaspar.
Martinez will undoubtedly strengthen an Aston Villa side that are set to be battling at the bottom yet again this season; however, he will be a massive boost to their survival hopes and will fulfil his wish of playing regular first-team football at a high level.
Oppositely for Arsenal, there will be mixed feelings; on the one hand, he will be a big loss and missed by Arsenal fans all over as he has earned their respect and trust through his loyalty to the club. Nonetheless, Arsenal will benefit from this deal by gaining much-needed transfer funds, notably from the sale of an academy product which can be used elsewhere in the market to strengthen a side challenging for European football.