Lionel Messi has described Emiliano Martinez as a “phenomenon”, just over 12 months after he left Arsenal for Aston Villa.
The 29-year-old goalkeeper joined Villa for around £17million last year despite impressing for the Gunners in the latter stages of the 2019/20 season.
Martinez, since making the permanent move to Villa Park after more than 10 years in north London, has been so impressive under Dean Smith and has emerged as one of the strongest goalkeepers in the Premier League.
Mikel Arteta, who has since added Aaron Ramsdale to his goalkeeping ranks, stuck with Bernd Leno for the 2020/21 season following Martinez’s departure.
Now, Messi, who played alongside the goalkeeper in Argentina’s win over Uruguay recently, has waxed lyrical about the former Arsenal man.
The Argentine legend said: “We have Emi, who is a phenomenon. We knew that he was going to stop them. We know and trust him. He deserves it.
“When they come to him, he always responds. The truth is that, once again, he established himself after the Copa America.
“Impressive and we have one of the best goalkeepers in the world, without a doubt. We take advantage of it.”
Martinez, when speaking about his departure from Arsenal less than a month after he left last year, described how he felt during his time at the Emirates Stadium.
He told the Independent: “I was finally the No 1 and I was ready for it. It took 10 years to get there. You train as a goalkeeper every day, but nobody prepares you for the story of your life.
“Nobody trains you to be frustrated, nobody trains you to cry. What about when you don’t play for four months? Will you keep going or will be you be mentally dead?
“I could’ve done so much more over the years, but finally the world started to see what I’m capable of. I finished on a high and that’s how I always wanted to leave.”
He added: “I thought if I played well that game, I would be No 1, but afterwards it still wasn’t clear who was going to start in the league.
“I was told that there was a 95 per cent chance I would start against Fulham [on the first day of the season], but I just thought, ‘why not 100 per cent?’ Something didn’t feel right.
“Everyone wanted me to stay, but that’s when I decided to go. The following morning I texted Mikel [Arteta] and told him.
“I thanked him, I said I won these trophies because of the way he trained, the way he changed the team. I trust his process so much, he is incredible.”
Source by Football London