'Arsenal's loss': Sky pundit blown away by 'big' player Mikel Arteta sold last year
Arsenal have just finished a season that promised so much and delivered so little, finishing without a major trophy and without European football.
There is a lot to dissect in terms of where the Gunners went wrong, and one topic that often comes up in fan discussions is whether selling Emiliano Martinez was the right thing to do.
The 28-year-old, who spent 10 years on Arsenal’s books, swapped the Emirates Stadium for Villa Park in a reported £20million deal last summer.
Martinez, who was a deputy for much of his time at Arsenal, excelled in the absence of Bernd Leno at the tail end of last season and in the Community Shield at the start of 2020-21.
However, a desire for regular first-team football and winning caps for Argentina led to the player seeking first-team action elsewhere, which led to his switch from red and white to claret and blue.
And while Leno hasn’t been at his best this season, Martinez has been pretty much flawless for Villa, ending the season with 15 clean sheets from 38 Premier League games and just 46 goals shipped.
Sky Sports pundit Don Goodman named Martinez in his Team of the Season, writing: “Aston Villa conceded 66 goals last year, so the difference has been vast this season and Emiliano Martinez has been a big part of that.
“Arsenal’s loss is Villa’s gain.”
In hindsight, maybe Arsenal shouldn’t have sold Martinez, but he wasn’t willing to stay put unless first-team football was assured, and Mikel Arteta simply couldn’t do that with Leno at the club.
Arsenal were never going to make the bold decision to sell Leno, who is a top goalkeeper – caps for Germany and a spot in their Euro 2020 squad is testament to that.
Sure, he’s been a bit shaky at times this season but the quality is there and he’ll bounce back for sure.