Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez has been branded as one of the world’s elite goalkeepers by a man many feel is himself the greatest of all time, in Lionel Messi.
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.
And having established himself as Argentina’s first-choice goalkeeper, it’s easy to see why he’s a man in demand.
Indeed, he made two smart saves to deny Luis Suarez on Sunday as Argentina defeated Uruguay 3-0 in World Cup qualifying.
And his efforts between the sticks have certainly earned the admiration of Messi.
The PSG superstar, as well as Rodrigo de Paul and Lautaro Martinez were on the scoresheet at Estadio Centenario, Montevideo.
Speaking afterwards though, Messi claims the heroics of Martinez made the big difference.
“Dibu [Emiliano] Martinez is fundamental,” said Messi, via TNT Sports.
“When they come to him, he always responds.
“He established himself in goal and we have one of the best goalkeepers in the world.”
Villa ready to pounce for Lingard
Villa, meanwhile, are being tipped as a contender to sign Jesse Lingard whose latest comments suggest an exit could occur.
After a whirlwind summer transfer window that saw the arrivals of Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo, attention has quickly turned to who could depart Old Trafford. Both Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard are attracting attention after entering the final years of their contracts.
United reportedly still hope to tie both stars down to long-term deals. For Lingard, any decision on whether to re-sign will likely come down to the amount of minutes he plays.
Lingard is currently on international duty and recently revealed his England ambitions could sway his decision.
After a stellar loan spell at West Ham last year, Lingard was in the reckoning for the Three Lions’ Euro 2020 squad. Ultimately, he was overlooked, and the prospect of missing out at the next World Cup is clearly on his mind.