Emiliano Martinez has confirmed that he is ending a decade-long spell with Arsenal with his move to Aston Villa set to be confirmed imminently. The Argentine goalkeeper posted an emotional video on his official Instagram account looking back on his spell with the club.
Martinez is on the verge of a £20million move to Villa as he looks to be a guaranteed No 1 keeper in the Premier League.
While the 27-year-old started over Bernd Leno in the Community Shield win over Arsenal last month, Mikel Arteta could not promise that he would remain first choice over the German.
Martinez was brilliant in Leno’s absence due to injury last season and helped the Gunners to win the FA Cup.
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But due to Leno’s pre-injury form, Martinez could be not be assured of starts in the English top-flight and he has instead moved to Dean Smith’s Villa for more regular minutes, as he also looks to make a case to be Argentina’s go-to shot-stopper.
“I’ve always had that feeling where, I would have my chance at Arsenal,” Martinez said in a lengthy farewell message.
“Season after season I was always trying to come back to the club I love to try and have my chance.
“I’ve done that, I waited through all the parts of frustration because football is not always easy like everyone thinks.
“I said to my family, I said to my team-mates, this is my time. I’m 27-years-old, I’ve got loads of game on my back, the talent was there, the power was there, I just needed the confidence and I had it.
“That why when I started against Southampton, I had a clean sheet, I started against Norwich, I had a clean sheet and then it looked like I’d been playing week in, week out for a long time.
“It’s because I was mentally prepared and over the years of being at Arsenal I’ve been working on my mental side.
“I’m proud to overcome my frustration and show the Arsenal fanbase what it means from 10 years ago, because I knew I could do the same thing years before.
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“I truly believe that keepers go different times and different paths. For me it was hard but I knew that it was light at the end of the tunnel.
“I said to my wife at the end of the season, I don’t know how many games I will play, but I will get to Wembley.
“When I got there I was actually enjoying it. I wasn’t anxious, I wasn’t nervous, I was full of confidence and saying ‘this is my time’.”
Martinez had made just 13 first-team appearances for the north London club before last season, when he appeared 23 times.
He had previously spent spells out on loan with Oxford United, Sheffield Wednesday, Rotherham United, Wolves, Getafe and Reading.
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The South American added ahead of his switch to Villa Park: “With my family we decided, after 11 years at the club, you work 10 years so hard, you will leave through the front door today.
“For me, I couldn’t be happier to leave through the front door with the Arsenal fanbase supporting me, the club.
“I’m just very grateful for the 11 years at Arsenal, even though it was a hard road for me and I suffered through my time at Arsenal.
“Today I’m happy and I try to show young goalies that hard work pays off. When you work hard, you’re not going to be happy the whole time, you’re going to have frustration, bad times in your life, but you have to work past that.
“When you work past that you will see the light, and that’s what I saw when I won the FA Cup and the Community Shield.
“I saw blue sky and it was the right time for me to step up. They all understood at Arsenal, and they support me for my decision.
“For me, Arsene (Wenger) and Gerry Peyton are leaders and Tony Roberts, Sal Bibbo, they really welcomed me in the club and made me feel warm. They are really important people in my life.
“The Arsenal fanbase, they were always there for me, I felt their love and even when Bernd got injured I was receiving loads and loads of messages.
“‘Emi we trust you, you are our goalie, you’re from our academy, I know you’re going to do so well’, and that made me confident, made me win games and made me the keeper I am today.
“I’m so glad that they got two trophies. They understood my story, they loved the way I worked hard in the club, so I’m so grateful to have been part of the Arsenal family for 11 years.”
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