Emiliano Martinez can expect to attract interest from Premier League suitors this summer, claims Ray Parlour, with the Argentine goalkeeper needing to decide whether he would be happy slipping back into a No.2 berth at Arsenal.
The South American earned an unexpected opportunity to impress when Bernd Leno suffered an unfortunate injury at Brighton shortly after the Premier League restart.
Martinez, who had previously made only six Premier League appearances across nine years with Arsenal, was asked to step in and provide cover between the sticks.
He has excelled in that role, earning plenty of plaudits along the way, and is now being tipped to receive tempting offers from afar in the current transfer window.
Former Gunners star Parlour told talkSPORT of Martinez, who is set to line up in the FA Cup final against Chelsea on Saturday: “It’s very difficult to be a No.2 because you must get very frustrated by not getting an opportunity.
“But now he’s got his chance and I had no doubt that he would prove to be a very good goalkeeper because I’ve seen him pre-season, I’ve seen the way he trains and the way he conducts himself.
“He’s just had to be patient. He’s 27 years old now. The interesting thing for me now will be does he want to stay being a No.2? Because Leno will be fit very soon, probably for the start of next season. What happens with the selection?
“Now if he’s the match-winner [against Chelsea] and has an unbelievable game and Arsenal go on to win, it’s going to be a big dilemma for Mikel Arteta going forward.
“It’s a good headache to have. You want your No.2 to be ready to go and when he did get in the team at Brighton when Leno got injured, I had no doubt that he wouldn’t let anybody down. He’s been the best player, some of the saves he has made.
“It’s whether he wants to stay No.2. Leno would still be No.1, but I’m sure there’s lots of clubs now hovering over and saying: ‘We wouldn’t mind taking him to be our No.1’. A Premier League club would be straight in saying: ‘We’re struggling in the goalkeeper situation, would you want to come and play for us week in, week out and be our No.1?’”
Legendary former Arsenal goalkeeper David Seaman agrees with that assessment, but he is hoping to see Martinez stick around and compete with Leno for minutes in 2020-21.
He told The Sun “Martinez has been out on loan with a lot of other clubs in his career and he has been playing good football. He is still young, only 27.
“I was 26 when I signed for Arsenal and I had a lot of experience before that in first team football. He is similar to me in that respect.
“Mikel has a real decision on his hands. Martinez has all the capabilities and qualities but he has only done it for a short period of time. Leno has done it for a few seasons now.
“It bodes well for the club to have two good quality keepers at the club but how do you keep them happy?
“Martinez has to realise that if Arteta stays with Leno, then he has to accept that. He is at Arsenal. The club cannot just have one good goalkeeper, and Martinez may not be kept in.”