Having spoken glowingly of Aston Villa ever since he joined us, there was a first hint from Emiliano Martinez this week that an exit could be playing on his mind.
From the much-played clip of his comment on how “Villa is a big club mate”, during an interview with Sky Sports in 2021, to always being forthcoming in his desire to deliver a trophy and success for the club, the 30-year-old has established himself not only as a fundamental figure on the pitch but a much-loved one off it among supporters too.
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Having signed a contract extension until 2027 just over a year ago, it was hoped that we wouldn’t need to have a discussion over his long-term future at the club for some time, but things change quickly in football and it may well become a talking point in the coming months heading into the summer.
“I’m still hungry, I want to win the Champions League,” Martinez told France Football this week, as per Ole. “Obviously, I would like to do it with Aston Villa, but it will be difficult because the club is still in its growth phase. I won the most beautiful title there is with the National Team and now I’m aiming for the biggest title [at club level].
“I would like to win a title with Aston Villa. But it’s complicated. We were knocked out of the FA Cup in January. You should never lose hope. We’ll see what will happen. I have the feeling that today I have the level to play in the Champions League and try to win it.”
It has to be said that following his World Cup success at the end of last year, this was an almost inevitable debate that was going to be had over his future at Villa, as he has established himself as one of the best goalkeepers in the world and that brings with it more attention and interest.
From a personal perspective too, Martinez will be desperate to enjoy more experiences like that, and so we can’t begrudge him being ambitious and wanting to make the most of his career, particularly when he’s in the peak years of it as he seemingly is right now.
Naturally, and perhaps more so after going through the Jack Grealish drama in 2021, there is a feeling now that it’s not worth getting too attached to any individual player as an exit is always a possibility regardless of the connection to the club, and so while it would be massively disappointing to lose Martinez if he does pursue an exit, if the recruitment is right, we will hopefully fill that significant void with a more than capable replacement.
That’s considering the worst case scenario though. How long can Villa hold on to ‘Dibu’? Can we do enough in the summer transfer market to convince him that we’ll make that step up from mid-table mediocrity to challenging for Europe in Unai Emery’s first full season in charge? Will that be enough to convince him to stay for at least one more year or is that growth not quick enough?
At 30 years of age, he still has time on his side, and so perhaps there is still hope that we can prove we’re capable of taking big steps forward – and this goes for other key members in the current squad too, namely Boubacar Kamara – then there isn’t a need to go looking elsewhere as we can match that ambition.
There’s a potentially difficult situation and decision ahead for Martinez and Villa this summer, but it’s hoped that whatever happens, we’re in a similarly strong position, if not better, when it comes to the quality of our first choice option between the posts.
If we can convince him to stay, that would be ideal from a personal opinion. However, if the lure of Champions League football right now is too much and a big offer comes in, Villa need to be prepared and identify the very best replacement possible now who suits Emery’s ideas and style of play perfectly to ensure we move on with minimal fuss.