Aston Villa

Aston Villa

Premier League • England

Pundit names Champions League giants Emi Martinez could join amid Aston Villa star’s World Cup exploits

Emi Martinez of Aston Villa

A former Premier League player has put Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez on a two-man shortlist for one of Europe’s most illustrious sides, amid his fantastic World Cup performances.

Martinez kept clean sheets against Mexico and Poland in the World Cup group stage for Argentina, helping them to bounce back from an opening 2-1 loss to Saudi Arabia and finish as Group C winners. Argentina went on to beat Australia 2-1 in the last 16, before a nervous penalty shootout against the Netherlands.

The two sides had drawn 2-2 after extra time in a match which had pretty much everything. And the shootout was Martinez’s chance to be the hero for his country.

And that is exactly what the Villa man became, as he denied Virgil van Dijk and Steven Berghuis in a 4-3 shootout victory for Argentina.

Lionel Messi and co. followed that up with an impressive 3-0 win over Croatia in the last four, which saw them book their spot in the final. They will come up against France on Sunday, with football’s biggest prize on the line.

Martinez became a revelation for Villa after joining them from Arsenal in September 2020. He has had a disappointing season so far, along with most of his Villa team-mates, but will be confident the World Cup campaign can help to turn his fortunes around.

However, Unai Emery could mix up the club’s goalkeeping options. Reports have linked the Villans with a move for Morocco shot-stopper Yassine Bounou, who is also on Bayern Munich’s radar.

But now, former Liverpool man Didi Hamann reckons Bayern could swoop in for Martinez. Of course, the German titans are in need of a new keeper following Manuel Neuer’s leg break.

Aston Villa man could replace Bayern hero

“The serious injury to Manuel Neuer has put Bayern in a very difficult situation for which they can do nothing,” Hamann wrote in his Sky Sport Germany column.

“Bayern are buying themselves time with a possible [Alexander] Nubel return. I think they should sign a goalkeeper who is then guaranteed a real chance to stay in goal after Neuer’s return, if he earns it with good performances in the coming months.

“The questions are: Will Neuer return and if so, how? The performances have already not been what they used to be lately. He didn’t hold up well at the World Cup either.

“At 36 and soon to be 37, it is an enormous ordeal to slog through months of rehab.

“If the Bayern bosses think that they are now going to get a keeper who has the potential to guard the Bayern goal for years to come, they could also think of Argentine international Emiliano Martinez from Aston Villa or look into the Croatian goalkeeper.”

The Croatian player Hamann is referring to is Dominik Livakovic. Like Martinez and Bono, he enjoyed a fantastic World Cup and pulled off several top saves.

Hamann is right about Bayern needing a new keeper in the next 12 months. Neuer is in the twilight years of his career, so a top-class successor needs to be found.

Martinez doesn’t really have the Champions League experience Neuer possesses. But he could probably develop into an outstanding keeper in his own right if he went to Bavaria.

Meanwhile, a World Cup forward ‘favours’ an Arsenal switch over Villa, according to reports.