Loan Report: Emi Martinez and Getafe Difficulties

Loan Report: Emi Martinez and Getafe Difficulties

When Wojciech Szczesny signed for Juventus this past summer for £10m, some sections of the Arsenal fanbase were indignant. At face value their criticisms make sense: at 27, he enjoyed a renaissance at AS Roma from 2015-2017 while helping them finish third and second. For others, it is the culmination of a weary chapter ranging from his “shower smoking” incident after the 2-0 loss to Southampton in January 2015 to his deteriorating relationship with Gerry Peyton. Whatever the case, it appears that his excellent spell at Roma did little to convince Wenger that he could stand between the posts at the Emirates again.

Part of his departure could be due to Wenger’s stubbornness when he loses confidence in a player. More likely, it is because Wenger holds an immense belief in the potential of the young Argentinian Emiliano Martinez. Wenger admitted as much in an interview in November 2016:

He has the stature, he has the passion, he has the technical quality, he has the decision-making, he has huge power and he’s not frightened of anything… I am very happy that he committed, because I think he is the future goalkeeper at this club.

Wenger hasn’t been the only one to sing his praises. Cech as well has been very complimentary when it came to Emi’s attitude in training, suggesting the Argentinian has the tools to succeed at Arsenal. After getting five first-team games under his belt last season, it feels that Wenger wants to slowly introduce him to Premier League football. Given his place in the Arsenal goalkeeping hierarchy (no. 3), loaning him out to a top division side makes footballing sense.

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Difficulties at Getafe

It is the never-ending superlatives that make his difficult loan spell at Getafe disappointing. Over eight games in La Liga so far this season, Martinez has registered zero starts. That he is unable to supplant Vicente Guaita is concerning, because Guaita has been quite average this season. Jose Bordalas must see something in training that makes him hesitant to throw Emi into the fire.

At 25, Martinez should be getting regular playing time to avoid the Stuart Taylor-like stagnation that has befallen many goalkeepers. Emi has the talent to start for many European clubs. At 195 cm, he can be an imposing figure in the box. He has tremendous reflexes and, coupled with his length, makes him quite adept to saving low shots. He positions himself well and has strong hands to hold on to shots. Sometimes he is indecisive in the air and caught flat-footed, while he is prone to the rash decision typical of inexperienced keepers.

One only has to look at the 3-0 defeat to Crystal Palace in April 2017 to see these skills in action. He made great saves on shots by Benteke and Townsend, with the latter remarkable for his lateral quickness. While he wasn’t entirely culpable for the first two goals, the penalty conceded suggests he has some way to go in making the right decisions in the box.

The Future of Emi Martinez?

Some have suggested that Arsenal need to sign a young keeper to eventually replace Cech, unconvinced by our academy prospects. Jack Butland has been floated around, but considering his potential cost, it’s unlikely the club would make a move. It’s still too early to write off the Argentinian as the future keeper at the club.

What he needs now is to get games under his belt, whether at Getafe or somewhere else. I wonder, though, if Arsenal is the right club to provide guidance for him or any other young keepers. We have not had the best record in stabilizing that position through the Wenger years (come on out, Vito Mannone). It’s now down to Martinez to take the chances presented to him and succeed where others have not.

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