‘We believed it was the right thing to do’: Mikel Arteta insists he has no regrets selling £20m understudy Emi Martinez as Arsenal prepare to go up against their FA Cup final hero for the first time
- Mikel Arteta says he doesn’t regret selling Emiliano Martinez to Aston Villa
- Martinez impressed in the closing stages of last season as Arsenal won FA Cup
- However, the goalkeeper wasn’t guaranteed regular playing time and left
- Arsenal are set to face Martinez when Aston Villa visit Emirates Stadium
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta believes his decision to sell Emi Martinez to Aston Villa and reinstate Bernd Leno as No. 1 will be justified when the goalkeeping pair face each other for the first time on Sunday.
Argentine ace Martinez won the hearts and minds of many Arsenal fans when he replaced an injured Leno for the lockdown stages of last season.
Dynamic displays against Liverpool and Wembley FA Cup glory against Chelsea and Manchester City indicated he would start the season as Arteta’s first choice – especially after a Community Shield penalty shoot-out win over Premier League champions Liverpool.
Mikel Arteta has no regrets about selling Emiliano Martinez, who won the FA Cup last season
But Villa’s £20m bid prompted Arsenal to cash in on a keeper who had signed as a teenage prodigy in 2010, but before last season had never made more than six appearances in a single season.
Leno, runner-up to skipper Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in Arsenal’s player of the year poll last season, has made a couple of high profile errors this season but does not have to convince Arteta and the club’s influential goalkeeping coach Inaki Cana.
Explaining why he ultimately backed the German keeper, Arteta was asked if he regretted the call.
He said: ‘No, when we sat down and we believed it was the right thing to do – he was still very willing to get the number one shirt and play regularly – I think we had to give him the choice to decide where he wanted to play.
Martinez ended up joining Aston Villa as he wasn’t guaranteed regular playing time at Arsenal
‘He has earned a lot of respect in this country, he has been here for 10 years and with his performances for us in the last few months. He believed it was the right club for him so I was happy to let him go and make the right decision for his career. ‘
Martinez has maintained his form at Villa, despite conceding seven goals in his last two matches, and that has not surprised Arteta.
He added: ‘No, it doesn’t. He has become really hungry, really competitive and really clear about what he wanted to do in the next chapter of his career so I am sure he will be a success.’
Arteta is anticipating a tough game as Arsenal get set to take on Martinez and Aston Villa
The goalkeeper debate done, Arsenal can focus on following up last Sunday’s win at Manchester United against against a Villa side that already has impressive wins over Liverpool and Manchester City this season.
‘We have been lacking consistency over the years to be fighting with the top teams,’ Arteta observed. ‘It is not about doing it once, it is about doing it every three days. We know the level in this league, everyone can beat you and if you are not at your best you are going to suffer.
‘I’m expecting a big game and it is a really important one for us to be strong at home and get another three points before the international break.
‘They all have to be prepared and I think they all know what Villa have done this season so I think they will be.’