Following Emiliano Martinez’s switch from Arsenal to Aston Villa, Dean Smith has spoken of how pleased he is to have signed the “outstanding” goalkeeper.
The 28-year-old, who spent 10 years on the Gunners’ books, officially swapped the Emirates Stadium for Villa Park on Wednesday in a reported £20million deal.
Martinez, who has spent most of his Arsenal career as a deputy, excelled in the absence of first-choice 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 have led to the player seeking first-team action elsewhere.
Villa confirmed that Martinez has joined on a four-year contract, and it is expected that he will be their first-choice keeper this season as they look to avoid another relegation dogfight following last term’s late great escape.
“We are really pleased with the signing of our new goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez,” Smith told the Villa website. “We know how highly Arsenal rated him and we watched his outstanding performances last season in a trophy-winning top side.
“We moved for Emi when we saw the opportunity, as it is rare to be able to buy a top-class goalkeeper who hasn’t yet reached their peak age and who can therefore be a key player for our club for the long term.”
While some Arsenal fans have bemoaned Martinez’s departure, wondering why the club has let him leave, you can’t begrudge him for wanting first-team football elsewhere, something difficult to obtain at the Emirates Stadium given Bernd Leno’s presence.
Nevertheless, with Runar Alex Runarsson reportedly set for a £1.5million switch to Arsenal, this would give Mikel Arteta an extra £18.5million to play with elsewhere, crucial in the tricky current market as he looks to bolster his ranks outfield.