Emi Martinez admits he decided to leave after learning he was only ’95 percent’ likely to start against Fulham in the Premier League opener.
Emi Martinez joined Aston Villa over the summer, making the decision to leave Arsenal after a decade with the club.
From the outside, it seemed like a bit of a strange choice, given Martinez was finally a regular in the starting lineup and winning trophies, with a new contract on the table. Fans speculated that maybe Mikel Arteta told him Leno would take his place.
However, the goalkeeper says that wasn’t the case. In fact, the Arsenal coaches were telling him he was 95% likely to start against Fulham, after starting against Liverpool in the Community Shield. But that wasn’t enough for the Argentinian.
“I thought if I played well that game, I would be number one, but afterwards it still wasn’t clear who was going to start in the league,” Martinez began.
“I was told that there was a 95 percent chance I would start against Fulham [on the first day of the season], but I just thought, ‘why not 100 percent?’ Something didn’t feel right. Everyone wanted me to stay, but that’s when I decided to go.”
I don’t think we can ignore the money angle. Martinez got a pay rise for moving to Aston Villa, and Arsenal got the funds they needed to invest in Thomas Partey. Clearly, that was a motivating factor for both sides.
But in the end, Martinez just didn’t want to risk the possibility of another year on the bench. Arsenal told him that wouldn’t be the case, but if he doesn’t completely trust that, it’s up to him to make his own decision.
No hard feelings for Arteta or Arsenal
“When I arrived at Arsenal [in 2010], there were nine goalkeepers in front of me,” Martinez continued. “Every year I had to prove myself, but I left as No 1. That was my story done there.
“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.
“[When he was a player], I always thought he was different. It’s like with [Lionel] Messi, I don’t see him as a top player, I see him as a top coach. He’s got so much to prove and I wish him all the best.”