No one can question his patience. Nor can they — critics, pundits or supporters — call him anything other than totally and utterly professional. Now, it seems, those admirable qualities look like they will come to fruition for the Arsenal ambitions of Emiliano Martinez.
The Argentine keeper, who is aged 25, spent a large chunk of last season out on loan at Championship club Reading and a string of polished performances earned him rave reviews and it didn’t take him too long to win over Royals fans after switching in January. Indeed, he played 18 times and chalked up five clean sheets — and ultimately it helped the team avoid the dreaded drop.
But, as you would expect, it was always Martinez’s desire to take another step closer to fulfilling his Gunners dream of being in contention to be the No.1 at the Emirates Stadium — ever since he came through the doors back in 2010. Coach Unai Emery came in after Arsene Wenger quit and almost immediately drafted in Bernd Leno from Bayer Leverkusen for around £23million. Ultimately, Leno couldn’t help Arsenal to silverware last season — but if you think they are in the frame this time you can always check out the odds.
Leno’s switch meant the German and Petr Cech would battle it out to be Emery’s first choice custodian and Martinez was out of the frame. But with ex-Czech Republic keeper Cech now retired, reports suggest Martinez will step up to be understudy to Leno. While nobody can doubt Martinez’s keenness to impress, he may well not have been handed the chance if Emery had a bigger transfer budget. With more money, might the Spanish boss have scoured Europe for a keeper more recognised than a player who has made only half a dozen first team appearances for the Gunners?
What hasn’t helped, of course, is Emery’s team’s failings in the Premier League. A failing that is stark when you glance at the league standings for last term and see the Gunners sitting in fifth position — one away from fourth spot and the cherished position in the Champions League next season and with all the riches it brings.
Yes, they had a chance to resolve the issue by beating Chelsea in the Europa League final in Baku, Azerbaijan but the plot fell flat when Emery’s troops delivered a terrible display that ended with a 4-1 defeat to the Blues.
Now with David Ospina expected to confirm that he will make permanent his loan deal at Napoli from the North London club for a fee of around £3million, the understudy role looks like it has been filled. The test remains that of Martinez to pass.