Arsenal have “reluctantly decided to sell” Emi Martinez to Aston Villa, according to The Independent. The Gunners rejected an initial offer from the Birmingham club, who have come back with a second offer closer to Arsenal’s £20M valuation. Arsenal have not necessarily accepted the offer, whatever that number may be. Instead, the two clubs will head to the bargaining table to negotiate a transfer fee.
Mikel Arteta has reportedly tried to convince Martinez to stay, but the Argentine wants the starting job, and Arteta is not ready to give it to him. A move to Villa would make him the Day 1 starter. He’s not going to get that at Arsenal; Bernd Leno is in line to start against Fulham.
According to the report, Martinez has already agreed to personal terms with Villa — four years, £60K per week. That’s a significant increase on the £22K per week he’s currently making. Add that to the starter’s minutes, which improve Martinez’s shot at making the Argentine national team for the Copa America this summer, and it’s a sweet deal for Emi.
But is it a good deal for Arsenal?
I don’t think so.
Arsenal’s £20M valuation is low. Martinez is an above average, starting-caliber Premier League keeper based on his recent performances. That’s worth more than £20M, like £10M-plus more. Arsenal don’t have to sell this window. They aren’t in danger of losing him for free; he’s under contract for two more seasons.
I think it’s time for the Gunners to play hardball in the market. Aston Villa are desperate for a starting keeper to replace Tom Heaton, who is still recovering from a torn ACL. Arsenal are in the power position here, and they should take advantage. Mikel Arteta needs to play hardball with his keepers, too. He should decide which one is his starter and tell the other, “tough cookies, you’ll get plenty of cup time, win the role.”
The Gunners do need cash to fund other moves, but a good chunk of the money raised from a Martinez sale would go directly towards a backup keeper — they don’t rate Matt Macey. I guess IF (big if) the £10M or so Arsenal would have left over is the amount that pushes a move for midfield reinforcements over the line, then selling Martinez for around £20M is reasonable. Otherwise, it’s not great business, especially since he may be the better of Arsenal’s two keepers.