Could Emi Martinez’s fairytale continue with an England call-up?

Did We Produce England’s Next Keeper? By Dan Smith

It’s fair to say that Gooners have been keeping an eye on Emiliano Martinez at Aston Villa. He won his place in Arsenal folklore not just by his contribution towards us lifting the FA Cup but the emotion he showed afterwards.

He explained this movie-type story of leaving South America as a teenager, his mum in tears, promising to one day return with a winners medal.

Since then there has been constant comparison with Martinez and Leno, due to us selling the Argentine because we wouldn’t guarantee him the number one spot.

It’s hard to ignore his 12 clean sheets since (only Man City have conceded less) especially when our goalie started the campaign out of sorts. Leno made terrible mistakes in Vienna and at Wolves, while you could argue he pushed the ball in the middle (not to the side) for Liverpool and Man City goals. He was out of position for Vardy’s header and could have done better to stop Auba’s own goal from a Burnley corner.

The German did re-find his mojo over Xmas, but not enough to leave some wondering will we regret not at least arranging a buy back clause with Villa?


This article isn’t so much about comparing Martinez with Leno, more taking pride in ‘one of own’.

No different to how I now keep my eye out for how Jack Wilshire is doing at Bournemouth, Martinez was equally with us from the age of 18 – 28.

I could understand his reasons for leaving and wished him all the best. Let’s be honest, it couldn’t have gone better for him at Villa Park.

Little did we realise when he was in our academy, but we may have produced the next keeper for ……..England! Even though he is clearly from Argentina he qualifies for England due to the home-grown rule.

This time last year he had been at the Emirates for a decade, never played in the League for us and been loaned to 6 clubs.

Since then he’s won a major trophy, been sold for 20 million. become one of the best in his position in the division and could now even be a possibility to play at the Euros.

None of that would have happened had Leno not got injured in July which shows you sometimes you need some luck to get your chance.

Of course Southgate might be opposed to selecting someone who is obviously from Argentina and then there is the case of how Martinez feels about everything.

He has been been in the squad for six of their matches, three friendlies in 2019, and three World Cup qualifiers since leaving North London, but is yet to pick up a single minute of action.

First, he needs to judge if it is realistic for him to ever be the Argentine number 1 (I think it is), and if not, what do you prefer, a squad player for your actual nation of birth, or to play for your adopted country and play at major tournaments and get all the sponsorship deals that come with the Three Lions?

To be fair he’s spent his adult life in England so it’s not like he won’t have respect for the country. Make no mistake he’s playing better than any English keeper at the moment. In fact I would say if you had to name your best Prem 11 right now, only Ederson has played better this season.

Arsenal’s youth set up has given England the likes of Tony Adams, Ashley Cole and Super Jack. What about Emi Martinez?

I said after he won the FA Cup and he told the tale of leaving his weeping parents in Argentina, promising to return one day from Europe with a winners medal, that they could make that into a movie. Well, playing at the Euros for England could be the next chapter.

Be Kind In The Comments


Tags Aston Villa England leno


  1. Reggie says:

    For me probably the best goalkeeper in the premier league, makes few mistake, looks calm and assured and is a massive presence in goal. Yes he can be Argentine no1 and England come to that, i thought he said himself he wanted to be Argentine no1. How on earth did we allow him to go, we do make some rediculous mistakes at Arsenal.

    1. siamois says:

      You’re right Reggie Emi has publicly expressed his desire to become Argentina number one so this whole thing is a non starter!

      1. Dan Smith says:

        Not really
        Southgate could ring say you would be my number 1
        Argentina manager rings and says , ‘ I see you as my third choice ‘
        What would you do ?
        Future not set in stone

        1. Gary Dempsey says:

          Pick the country that I’m actually from! There’s far too many players playing for the wrong country as it is!

    2. jon fox says:

      Not “and ” Reggie . OR is the word you should use!

      1. Reggie says:

        Ha ha sorry Jon, my written English is a bit pigeon.

        1. jon fox says:

          Never noticed that before Reggie. Your English is fine. You simply chose the wrong word. Many English native speakers do so constantly, for proper context!

    3. Stephen Graham says:

      A keeper says the only way he stays is if you acquiesce to his impossible demand for a guaranteed number one spot. How does selling him to the highest bidder become a mistake?

      1. Reggie says:

        Stephen, he asked Arteta to be number one because of what he had done, wether it was Arteta or Edu who told him no, he was told he would be number 2. For me the choice was made by who told him that. There was a choice to be made, we could have made him first choice and Leno second, we could have sold Leno, surely we would have got 20 mill if he is that good. Martinez had been ulta patient for his chance, he took it with both hands and someone at Arsenal decided he wasn’t going to be number one. Yes he made the choice to go but the choice was made for him by Arsenal or someone at Arsenal. We let the better keeper leave in my opinion.

        1. ozziegunner says:

          Reggie, “possession” of a position in a football team if you are playing well should be “nine tenths of the law”. Leno returning from injury should have had to win his place back, but that is not how Arsenal management saw it.
          Martinez at 28 considered he had to pursue his career elsewhere and Arsenal did not stand in his way and pocketed a £20 million transfer fee.

        2. Stephen Graham says:

          Whether that story is wrong and Arsenal simply told him no promise could be made and both keepers would have to duel it out for the top spot in training, or not, is it really prudent for a club to give that kind of power to a player?

  2. Perry ames says:

    Not the first mistake we have made in the last few years and quite obviously will not be the last
    1. Giving players a monster contracts
    2. Letting players run there contacts down and leaving for sod all
    3. Selling players to our rivals, the list goes on and on…………

  3. Kenny says:

    I don’t want to compare but want to point out that Leno has been out of position a lot of time in many matches. We can’t score against Aston Villa is because their defence is good & goalie is outstanding.

    1. Reggie says:

      Yes Kenny only city keeper has kept more clean sheets than him and that is all with the mighty villa. Any fool can see what a top keeper he is.

  4. Dan kit says:

    Martinez as been awful the last 3-4 weeks
    The goals that he as let in have been terrible mistakes .I think it was the Burnley and West Ham games ,horrible goalkeeping.
    If this was Leno we wouldn’t hear the end of it
    While he has done well taking his opportunity’s there is a reason why he was a number 2-3 keeper for 10 years ,fans like to jump on the next fad or bandwagon and that’s all Martinez was ,and with out the 20 million we got for him we probably wouldn’t have signed Partey ,so personally I’m more than pleased with his sale ,wish him well but I don’t get the hype at all .

    1. Phil says:

      Yeah I’m with you Dan- As good as Martinez was last season and how he has performed so far this season, Leno in my mind is the better keeper.
      And your right on the hype. Let’s see how he performs over a number of years not just 12 months

    2. Declan says:

      You obviously didn’t see him save Villa from a thrashing yesterday.

      1. Reggie says:

        Declan he obviously didn’t see him keep us out against villa and them stick 4 past us.

        1. Dan kit says:

          No Declan I didn’t ,as I don’t support villa so missed the game .
          Dan was talking about Lenos mistakes i countered it with the 4 easy goals that Martinez as let in over the last few games .
          @reggie don’t be a dick mate ,obviously I watch our games as I’m an Arsenal supporter ,something you could learn a little about .

      2. Phil says:

        No Declan I didn’t to be fair and from the reports he had another very good game. But I did see his mistakes against West Ham and thought he was quite shaky in other games as well.
        The good keepers are consistent over a number of seasons, and Leno has, in my opinion, been very consistent since joining. He has improved his distribution and is getting better at dealing with crosses. I believe we have a very very good keeper in Leno who seems to genuinely love the Club as well..
        Let’s see how Martinez does over the next few years and compare because he just does not have the games on his CV to judge.

        1. Declan says:

          Sorry Phil my answer was to Dan not you and whilst I agree he’s had a few bad games he was outstanding against Brighton.

      3. Dan Smith says:

        Yeah but I felt Leno made a few mistakes last season as well

  5. Lenohappy says:

    I’m not even mad that we sold him, I’m upset that we sold him cheap, we could have gotten more than 30million for him.

  6. The Real Vieira Lynn says:

    No contest whatsoever, Emi is the better of the two keepers…not a pundit in English footballing would disagree, so for those who anxiously awaited for him to have one shocking performance then eagerly came online to harp about it, and you know who you are, you’re absolutely pathetic…so next time, if it ever happens again, instead of making yourselves look foolish, just keep your heads planted firmly within the sand so it doesn’t reflect poorly on the rest of us here who not only love Arsenal but good football too!!!

  7. Bill says:

    Definitely should not have let him go. Big loss.

  8. Mike says:

    Nah ederson hasn’t been the best so far cause of the defenders doing their jobs he has rarely made a world class save these past weeks because the ball doesn’t pass the city defense at all. Emi has been by far the best gk of the season so far

  9. jon fox says:

    Is not the true perspective that BOTH HE AND LENO are top keepers and it is unusual to have two players both easily capable of being a top first choice. MARTINEZ had already spent a decade as a reserve and clearly has more ability than we all realised.

    It is natural that he should want first team football. The club therefore had to make a decison which to keep and IMO rightly kept LENO. We received £20 mill for him, which in todays market is not to be sniffed at.


  10. Mani Thangadurai says:

    A non-starter, as someone said. He’s MUCH closer to becoming Argentina’s number one than getting a game for England and Southgate already has a crop of keepers with whom he enjoys working. While I don’t rate Pickford and don’t believe the likes of Pope, Henderson and Ramsdale have enough pedigree or experience, Southgate won’tshake up the pecking order. We’ve already been here before. Manuel Almunia anyone?

    One magnificent thing I’ve read about Martinez is that after the West Ham game where he was at fault for two of the goals he stayed back to do some extra work with his strikers. It goes without saying that it paid off handsomely. THIS should shut down all those criticisms of him being arrogant because that ISN’T true. He’s stayed humble and grounded and I’m DELIGHTED for his success. We sold Aston Villa the WRONG goalkeeper. Simple as that. In addition, there was another article which spoke about how he has conceded a large number of goals that have been absolute screamers, otherwise his stats would be even better this season. It’ll be interesting to see how well he does the following season when expectations are higher.

    And if ANYONE dares to harp on about his occasional mistakes, I’ll respond with these words:
    It’s NOT just that Leno is still not the finished article, he’s SHOWN on MANY occasions that he lacks the footballing intelligence to be a truly top goalkeeper the way David Seaman or Petr Cech were. Hopefully if we keep Mat Ryan as a top-quality back-up with a GREAT international and Premier League pedigree, Bernd will FINALLY knuckle down and pull his finger out of his mouth.

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