How long will Emi Martinez remain content as Bernd Leno's back up?
By Daniel Finton (Deputy Editor)
As the lack of football continues, more and more in-club scenarios that can turn into problems tend to spring to mind. One that just ran through the wrinkles of my brain recently was the strange case of Arsenal’s number two goalkeeper, Emiliano Martinez. The Argentine has been within the Arsenal fold since 2011 and has only managed a total of 6 Premier League appearances. Granted, during his nine-year tenure with the club, he has been loaned out to six different sides, meaning he’s only actually be within the club for three full seasons. This year has been one of those.
After a promising loan spell with Championship Side Reading last season, the gunners chose to bring the now 27-year-old back to the club for this campaign. The Argentine managed 18 appearances for the Berkshire outfit, in which he demonstrated he has the talent necessary to be an asset for us going into the future.
Given the fact that Petr Cech retired and the club’s focus clearly was on bringing in marquee signings such as Nicolas Pepe, it was decided that Martinez would suffice as a number two to Bernd Leno for the time being. Whether or not the club has any intention of bringing in an alternate number two is impossible to determine, although it is certain that Martinez may not be content with his spot behind the German keeper in the long-run.
Though Martinez has managed eleven appearances this season, his fellow keeper that sits solidly ahead of him in the pecking order, has thirty. Furthermore, of the eleven appearances Martinez has been awarded; six have been in the Europa League, three in the FA cup and two in the EFL cup followed by zero in the Premier league. Obviously, that is pretty standard protocol for a second string keeper, but I do not think Martinez will remain content with playing second fiddle forever.
The Argentine is a very ambitious player and seems to be fully aware of the fact that he is in fact a good goalkeeper just based on his confident demeanor. Unfortunately for him, at Arsenal the greatest height he looks set to achieve is that of the “cup keeper” role.
It would not leave me the slightest bit surprised if Martinez eventually opted for a move away from North London for more frequent game time. A move back to a club like Reading, who are sat 14th in the Championship table, would provide the ambitious, nine-year-serving keeper an avenue to more consistent game time from the start of the match, rather than being somewhat of an after-thought on the bench.
Martinez’s contract expires in 2022, so for the time being, Arsenal can rely on him to play second fiddle. However, given that Leno seems set to stay on for the foreseeable future, meaningful minutes will remain few and far between for our current number two. If the 27-year-old is hungry for more game time coming into the prime of his career, that most likely will not come wearing the cannoned crest at the Emirates stadium.
When Leno was recently asked about the status of his future with the club he said, “I think it is really a pleasure to be here, I am really happy- that’s my feeling.”
Whilst I do believe the number 26 donning goalkeeper is a good enough individual to take up the space between the posts on occasion, there is next to no chance that he will leapfrog the consistent German and overtake his starting spot. He once declared that he wouldn’t leave the club until he is number one, but surely now he must be considering going back on those words.
For that reason, he should look for a move away come the end of his contract if he wants to be a number one. Therefore, we as a club should start looking for his replacement sooner than later.