Aston Villa have reportedly submitted a bid “substantially closer” to Arsenal’s £20M asking price for goalkeeper Emi Martinez. It’s the Villans second bid for the Argentine keeper, who are keen to secure a replacement for the injured Tom Heaton before the Premier League opens this weekend.
Martinez is under contract with Arsenal through 2022 but could be on the move this window. The Gunners have reportedly offered him a new contract, but it looks as if he rejected the club’s initial offer. Martinez wants a starting position and #1 keeper role after his impressive performances in place of the injured Bernd Leno during the restart. I don’t blame him. He has shown he’s more than good enough, and he has ambitions of starting for Argentina at Copa America this coming summer.
While Aston Villa are prepared to offer Martinez the spot he wants, Mikel Arteta may not be there yet. He has a difficult decision to make between Martinez and Leno to start this season. Both are superb keepers. Martinez played great in a small sample. Bernd Leno has been Arsenal’s most important player not named Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
In a perfect world, Arteta is able to keep both keepers happy between Premier League, Europa League, and cup starts. But we probably aren’t living in that perfect world.
Arsenal don’t want to sell Martinez without a replacement lined up; it doesn’t appear the club is comfortable with Matt Macey in the #2 role. The Gunners have been told their preferred keeper target, Brentford’s David Raya, is not available. Arsenal’s interest comes, at least in part, from new set piece coach Andreas Georgeson’s familiarity with Raya from their shared time at the Championship side. Promotion-hopeful Brentford probably don’t need the cash a Raya sale would generate, especially if Ollie Watkins’ expected £30M-plus sale (to Villa, of all clubs) goes through.
It looks likely that Martinez will be on the move this window, with Leeds and Valencia as other possible destinations. I’m fine with him moving, even if he turns out to be slightly better than Leno. That Martinez is the only one generating real transfer buzz informs the comparison between the two, but I think it’s down to what you value in a keeper. Leno is a better shot stopper. Martinez is better with his feet and commands the area more forcefully.
I think Arsenal should hold out for more than £20M. Yes, COVID has affected the transfer market, but in a world where Alisson moved for £66.8M and Kepa went for £71.6M (LOL @ Chelsea), a starting keeper should go for more than £20M. That’s what Martinez is — Premier League starting caliber. And while you don’t want guys unhappy with their playing time, Martinez doesn’t have to move this window. He’s not entering the last year of his contract, so the Gunners could always sell him next summer. You want to do right by your players, but at the same time, you need to do what’s best for the club.
Arsenal are in a strong position with two top class keepers. Hopefully they make the most of it, whether that be rolling with both of them this season or selling Martinez to reinvest the funds. I don’t either is the “wrong” move.