Aston Villa could be deprived of Emiliano Martinez next summer if Atletico Madrid act upon their reported interest in him.
Martinez was a smart signing by Villa last summer, when they bought him from Arsenal. It brought an end to a long association with the Gunners, whom he didn’t originally want to join and frequently loaned him out. Only towards the end of his decade in north London did he begin to get regular gametime.
But once Bernd Leno recovered from an injury, he was reinstated ahead of Martinez as number one. To fulfil his ambitions of becoming his country’s first choice, the Argentina international left for Villa, where he could play regularly.
The move has had the desired effect for both parties, while becoming a regret for Arsenal. Martinez helped Villa improve last season to finish in mid-table and this year has earned his first nine caps for Argentina, helping them win the Copa America.
As a result of being in the limelight more, Martinez has already been linked with a transfer away from Villa. It may have been a case of taking one step backwards to take two steps forwards.
Clubs of high calibre have reportedly been looking at the 29-year-old. The latest suggestion is Atletico Madrid, who won La Liga last season.
According to La Razon, Atleti are considering the sale of Jan Oblak next summer. Although he is one of the best goalkeepers in the world, he will only have a year left on his contract at that stage. As one of the club’s highest earners, he would become a likely candidate to be sold so they can reduce their wage bill.
In that case, Atleti would weigh up Martinez as a potential replacement for Oblak, the report claims.
Martinez does have previous experience in La Liga, spending the 2017-18 season with Getafe. He has since described it as the lowest point of his career, but he has become a more accomplished player since then.
Villa keen to keep Martinez
Because of that, and the fact he has a contract until 2024, Martinez will not be cheap. Villa would not want to lose one of their most reliable players in a key position.
Indeed, back in July, a report claimed they were ready to offer him a new contract to stave off interest from an unnamed European giant.
However, Atletico may give them a choice to make if they do cash in on Oblak. Until then, though, plenty could change.
Martinez has made a total of 41 appearances – three more than he ever made for Arsenal – and has conceded just 50 goals in those games.
If he were to join Atletico, he would have big gloves to fill. Oblak has played 306 times for them, conceding less than a goal a game by letting in just 215 goals and keeping 160 clean sheets. He even won the award for La Liga player of the year last season.