• Emiliano Martinez's move to Aston Villa was a big one, Dean Smith says
  • Mikel Arteta is standing by his decision to let Martinez move to Villa
  • The Arsenal boss said Martinez was hungry and wanted to be the top goalkeeper for any club

Arsenal FC once pinned its shot-stopping hopes on Emiliano Martinez around the time Bernd Leno got injured last season. But with Leno back in harness, the Gunners stuck with the German goalkeeper, meaning Martinez would have to settle for a backup role.

With the performance that Martinez showed for the Gunners last season, particularly during their FA Cup run, the 28-year-old wanted assurance that he would be the club’s no. 1 goalie. Unfortunately, that was something that Arsenal was unable to give, paving the way for his exit.

He moved to Aston Villa after the club came to terms with the Gunners for a  £20 million ($26 million) deal, Goal reported.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta insists that the decision to let Martinez go was the right one. He noted how Martinez has evolved and gotten hungrier, wanting that opportunity to show that he deserves to wear the no. 1 shirt.

“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,” Arteta explained.

Martinez now has a chance to show what he can do as a club’s top goalkeeper. He will be put to the test this Sunday when Arsenal faces Aston Villa. Critics will keep close watch of this match, some believing that Mikel Arteta sold the wrong goalkeeper. The Gunners are one place below Villa in the Premier League table.

As for Villa, manager Dean Smith remains in disbelief that they were able to land someone as talented as Martinez. Aside from goalkeeping duties, he lauded the Argentine player for his character and attitude since arriving at Villa Park.

“Emi, I thought, was brilliant at Arsenal. I was surprised when the opportunity came up. We heard that there might be something there,” Smith said via Talksport. “Not just as a goalkeeper, but his character and his attitude around the place is refreshing really. He’s fit in really well.”

Emiliano Martinez of Aston Villa Emiliano Martinez of Aston Villa Photo: Getty Images | Marc Atkins