Emi Martinez helped Reading to confirm their safety in the Championship last week, but quotes from earlier this month suggest he won’t accept being third choice at Arsenal anymore.
Reading only managed one draw and one defeat against West Brom and Middlesbrough last week, but thanks to earlier results and Rotherham losing twice, it was enough to ensure safety for the team.
On an individual level, Martinez was on top form as usual. First, he kept a clean sheet against fourth-place West Brom, making four saves, two high claims and completing 70% of his passes. Then he upped most of those numbers despite defeat to Middlesbrough, with four saves, four high claims and 81% pass completion.
The performance wasn’t enough to avoid a 2-1 defeat in the second game, but it maintained Martinez’s record of having the third-highest save percentage, highest saves per 90 and highest high claims per 90 in the division (minimum 10 appearances).
The question is: Has he done enough to convince Unai Emery to give him the opportunity to fight for Arsenal’s number one spot alongside Bernd Leno?
“I’ve been around a lot, but for me, it’s now time to settle in one place,” Martinez told Goal earlier this month. “I’m tired of going on loan. Obviously, I love Arsenal. But it’s time for me to make it there or go somewhere else.
“My dream is to play for Arsenal, I’ve always said that and I believe I have everything that a keeper needs to play for Arsenal. When I signed my last contract for six years it was because I believed I had everything to be No.1.
“If they don’t trust me, then I will have to move away and the Arsenal fans will understand. But I believe I should have the chance to show how good I am at Arsenal.”
The key moment that may swing things in the Argentine goalkeeper’s favour was when Petr Cech announced his retirement. With David Ospina just one game away from completing his move to Napoli, and Deyan Iliev and Matt Macey having mixed seasons, Martinez is suddenly the only plausible internal solution to the backup keeper position.
The goalkeeper says it’s up to Arsenal to show him they trust in him, and they’re not just going to buy someone else as soon as the transfer window opens.
“If they don’t trust me or buy a new goalkeeper, then my future has to be somewhere else,” Martinez continued. “Obviously Petr [Cech] is retiring now. I don’t know what they are going to do but I’m sure that if week in, week out I was able to play at Arsenal that I could be one of the best. I just need a chance.
“Petr has opened the door for me and I have to step forward or move away. If Arsenal give me the No.2 spot, it has to be to have a chance of getting the No.1 spot otherwise I’m not going to do it. If they don’t offer me any games, I can’t stay at Arsenal. I need to play.”
That seems like a fair stance from someone who has now spent nine years at Arsenal without ever really getting a proper chance. We’ll see if Emery is willing to give Martinez the assurances he desires.