Emiliano Martinez opens up on his emotional Arsenal departure

‘Something didn’t feel right’: Emiliano Martinez admits he decided to leave Arsenal for Aston Villa after being told he only had ’95 per cent chance’ to start season opener against Fulham

  • Emiliano Martinez completed a £16million move to Aston Villa from Arsenal 
  • He left the Gunners on a real high after lifting FA Cup and Community Shield
  • The Argentine was desperate to become an established No 1 so exited Arsenal
  • He has since shone for Villa, helping the club enjoy the perfect start in the league

Emiliano Martinez has opened up on his Arsenal departure, revealing he decided to leave the club after not being 100 per cent guaranteed the starting spot against Fulham in the season opener.

The Argentine goalkeeper sealed a £16million move to fellow Premier League outfit Aston Villa this summer and has continued his impressive form since joining up with Dean Smith’s side.

After Bernd Leno’s knee injury following Project Restart last season, Martinez finally nailed down regular game time in goal for the Gunners and shone in all competitions, lifting both the FA Cup and Community Shield.

Emiliano Martinez hasn’t looked back since making the £16m move to Aston Villa from Arsenal

Mikel Arteta had a huge selection headache on his hands at the start of the new season when deciding who should start in goal between Martinez and Leno but after being told there was only a ’95 per cent chance’ he would play at Fulham, that’s when he decided to seek out a fresh challenge.

After once again starring in the Community Shield against Liverpool, Martinez has since told the Independent: ‘I thought if I played well that game, I would be No 1, but afterwards it still wasn’t clear who was going to start in the league. 

‘I was told that there was a 95 per cent chance I would start against Fulham [on the first day of the season], but I just thought, “why not 100 per cent?”. Something didn’t feel right. 

‘Everyone wanted me to stay, but that’s when I decided to go. I wasn’t upset or emotional, I was proud I did it. When I arrived at Arsenal [in 2010], there were nine goalkeepers in front of me. Every year I had to prove myself, but I left as No 1. That was my story done there.’

Martinez was vying for the No 1 spot with Bernd Leno after shining in place of his team-mate

The Argentine went out on a huge high after winning both the FA Cup and Community Shield

Martinez signed his first professional contract with the Gunners in 2012 after a couple of seasons in the youth ranks and then had six different loan spells as he struggled to breakthrough into the Arsenal first-team. 

But once he finally got his regular opportunity under Arteta at the end of the 2019-20 campaign, there was no looking back for the 28-year-old.

Martinez knew it was his time to capitalise on his great form and if Arsenal couldn’t guarantee him the No 1 spot, he knew his time was up especially with Villa in hot pursuit.

And after completing his transfer away from the club he loved, Martinez has admitted that he was extremely proud to have gone out on a ‘high’. 

‘I was finally the No 1 and I was ready for it,’ he says. ‘It took 10 years to get there. You train as a goalkeeper every day, but nobody prepares you for the story of your life.

Leno started in goal against Fulham as Martinez decided to make the summer move to Villa

‘Nobody trains you to be frustrated, nobody trains you to cry. What about when you don’t play for four months? Will you keep going or will be you be mentally dead? 

‘I could’ve done so much more over the years, but finally the world started to see what I’m capable of. I finished on a high and that’s how I always wanted to leave.’

Martinez has continued in style since his transfer to Villa, saving a penalty on his debut against Sheffield United before his side ran out 1-0 winners.

Martinez has oozed calmness and provided a leadership figure for Villa, and that has shown by helping his new side get off to the perfect start in the Premier League with three wins on the bounce, including the 7-2 thrashing of Liverpool.

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