Emiliano Martinez explains how he’s on a par with Lionel Messi & why he won’t be taking the ‘easy’ transfer option at Aston Villa
- Goalkeeper starred at Qatar 2022
- Helped to capture a global crown
- Now seeing a move speculated on
WHAT HAPPENED? The enigmatic Argentina international goalkeeper has seen his stock soar over the course of the last 18 months, with his exploits helping the Albiceleste to Copa America and World Cup glory. Martinez is now a household name in his homeland, having been a back-up goalkeeper at Arsenal as recently as 2020, and believes he is competing with iconic countryman Messi when it comes to inspiring the next generation of Argentine talent.
WHAT THEY SAID: Martinez has told Mike Calvin’s Football People podcast for BT Sport: “I touched the sky, like my dad would say. Half of the kids want to be Messi, half of the kids want to be a goalkeeper now. Obviously, that's a proud moment in my career. I always say that I hate individual awards, you know, now with the FIFA Best award, doesn't satisfy me. It satisfies me just seeing the young children trying to be a goalkeeper now because they love what they have seen in the World Cup, you know? So whatever happens in my career, from now on, I will always be grateful for the chance I had in the World Cup.”
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Transfer talk has started to rage around Martinez, now that he is a World Cup winner, with there suggestions that he is eager to test himself on a Champions League stage at club level. He insists that is not the case, saying of his ambition at Aston Villa: “I want to achieve something that no one achieves, or it's been hard to achieve. And obviously, people were saying, after the Copa America after the World Cup, Emi is going to go and play Champions League and he’s going to leave. And I'm thinking, yeah, that's the easiest part. You know that that's easy leaving now in January going to a club playing the Champions League and all that. It seems everything easy. Actually, it was a real challenge for me. Winning a World Cup for Argentina after 36 years. Yes. Beating the champions of America after 28 years in the Maracana. Yeah, that was a challenge. Winning the Finalissima against the champions of Europe was a challenge. And now we need something for Aston Villa after 30 years? I don’t know how long it was. 40 years? That’s a challenge. You know, that's a challenge. And that's something I’m made for - for challenges, for not always having the easy way out. And we’ve got one of the best managers for winning things in Europe. So I'm up for the challenge.”
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WHAT NEXT? Martinez signed a contract extension with Villa last summer that is intended to keep him on their books until 2027, at which point he will be 34 years of age and ready to mull over the next chapter in his colourful career.