Brazil-Argentina qualifier suspended after health officials enter pitch
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Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez has hit out at his former club Arsenal by insisting that he never wanted to head to north London in the first place. The Gunners are widely considered to have mishandled his eight-year spell at the club in light of the fact he has been mightily impressive since making the switch to Villa Park.
Before even notching a senior appearance, Martinez flew to England to complete a move from Argentinian side Independiente as a teenager.
His lengthy stay at the Emirates was characterised by a serious of underwhelming loan spells, before an injury crisis granted him a run in the first-team.
Although his strong performances did not earn him the No 1 jersey under Mikel Arteta, it did grant him a move to Aston Villa in an eyebrow-raising £20million deal.
Since switching to the West Midlands he has been nothing short of a revelation, becoming first-choice stopper for Argentina and winning nine caps over the past few months.
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It was far from an ideal relationship between Martinez and Arsenal, a period of his career which he elaborated on in an interview with El Pais.
“Arsenal came to look for me and Pepe Santoro [a coach at Independiente] told me that the train only passes once in a lifetime,” he said.
“My family and my agents thought the same. So, the decision was more for them than anything else.
“I didn’t want to go. I did not regret it, but I wanted to play in Independiente.
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“For a while, I thought: ‘If I stayed, in two years I will make my debut.’ My family lacked a little financially. I did it more for that than sports.”
Martinez’s attitude illustrates the extent to which Arsenal’s star has fallen in recent years, particularly from their Premier League heyday in the early-2000s.
With the club currently at their lowest ebb after kicking off the new season with three consecutive defeats, they could benefit from the Argentine’s solidity between the sticks.
In his absence, they spent a whopping £25m on Aaron Ramsdale to provide back-up to Bernd Leno as part of a frivolous summer spending spree.
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With Martinez in his late twenties, he clearly felt as though Villa could hand him more regular opportunities in goal, and he has been proven right.
The former Arsenal stopper was also at the centre of Sunday night’s controversy between Brazil and Argentina, when Brazilian authorities stormed the pitch after Premier League players were deemed to have breached COVID quarantining regulations.
The match was eventually suspended, although Tottenham duo Giovani Lo Celso and Cristian Romero will reportedly face punishment from Spurs for flying to South America.
Whether Martinez will face the same treatment from Villa remains to be seen, but it could lead to his first Premier League absence since signing in 2020 which would be a huge loss for the club.
If that does turn out to be the case, he will be no stranger to sitting on the side-lines having got in plenty of practice with the Gunners.
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