What Mikel Arteta told Emiliano Martinez to make goalkeeper leave Arsenal for Aston Villa
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta could not guarantee Emiliano Martinez the No 1 spot, which is why the goalkeeper left to join Aston Villa in September. Martinez brought a 10-year spell at Arsenal to an end when he left in a potential £20million deal to move to Villa Park. The Argentine starred for the Gunners post-lockdown last term following a season-ending knee injury to Germany international Leno.
Martinez helped Arsenal win the FA Cup and also shone in the Community Shield win over Liverpool at the end of August.
But the victory over the Reds at Wembley ended up being the 28-year-old’s final outing in an Arsenal shirt.
After years of fighting for the No 1 jersey, Martinez was told he had a 95 per cent chance of starting the Premier League campaign in goal.
However, that five per cent of doubt led to him quitting the Gunners after a decade in north London.
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“I thought if I played well that game [against Liverpool], I would be No 1, but afterwards it still wasn’t clear who was going to start in the league,” Martinez told the Independent.
“I was told that there was a 95 per cent chance I would start against Fulham, but I just thought, ‘why not 100 per cent?’. Something didn’t feel right.
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“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.
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“I was finally the No 1 and I was ready for it. It took 10 years to get there. You train as a goalkeeper every day, but nobody prepares you for the story of your life.
“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 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.”
Speaking last month, Arteta insisted he did not promise either Martinez or Leno the No 1 spot.
“I was very clear with both of them that it wasn’t a No 1 and a No 2 and that they had to compete for the place like any other position in the team,” Arteta said.
“To be fair, Bernd was superb before he got injured at Brighton and Emi was absolutely excellent with all of the games that he played and how much he helped us as well with winning the trophies.
“But at the end of the day, that created a big competition, some big expectations from both of them and we had to deal with that. I had many discussions with him and I think we all finished on really good terms.
“We were really open, trying to have those discussions and at the end, Emi had a really good offer, really well-suited to what he wants to achieve long-term and short-term and we allowed him to leave the club.”
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