Arsenal fans have voiced their frustrations at manager Mikel Arteta for deciding to sell Argentine goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez last summer after he produced a masterclass the Copa America final.
The Gunners have a bad habit of selling players that they consider surplus to requirements, only for them to go on and become top-class players at another side.
Bayern Munich winger Serge Gnabry and Dutch striker Donyell Malen come to mind as recent players to be offloaded by Arsenal before succeeding elsewhere and Argentine goalkeeper Emi Martinez is the latest former Gunner to find out that the grass is greener away from the Emirates.
Martinez spent ten years with the north London club but rarely got a chance in the first team, often being deployed as a cup ‘keeper that deputised the likes of Petr Cech and Bernd Leno.
Leno was then injured during a 2-1 defeat to Brighton in June 2020, giving Martinez a chance to showcase his talents between the sticks.
The Argentine international went on to play a starring role for Mikel Arteta’s side as they lifted their record 14th FA Cup after wins against Manchester City and Chelsea, resulting in a large section of the Gunners’ faithful calling for Leno to remain on the bench whenever he returned from his injury.
However, Arteta decided that the German would regain his place for the 2020/21 campaign and the Spaniard allowed Martinez to join Aston Villa last summer in the search for guaranteed first-team opportunities.
The 28-year-old enjoyed an extremely productive season at Villa Park, keeping 15 clean sheets for Dean Smith’s side as he was named in Argentina’s Copa America squad, a tournament that they went on to win on Sunday night, largely thanks to Martinez’s heroics in the final against Brazil.
After the full-time whistle, Arsenal fans took to social media to voice their frustrations at Arteta and chief executive Edu Gaspar for allowing the former Hale End graduate to leave the Emirates.
The 1-0 win over their fierce rivals meant that Argentina frontman Lionel Messi had finally clinched his first international trophy and the 34-year-old heaped praise on Martinez after their semi-final win over Colombia on Tuesday night.
“We have Emi, who is a phenomenon,” Messi said.
“We trusted him. We achieved the goal of being able to play all the games and now we are going to the final.”