The Athletic’s Gregg Evans has confirmed a major Aston Villa boost over Argentina duo Emi Martinez and Emi Buendia amid the farcical scenes that emerged during their abandoned clash against Brazil.
The duo made the trip to South America despite the prospect of having to quarantine on their eventual return home and potentially missing a couple of Premier League games, but it now appears that Dean Smith will be able to call upon their services sooner than expected.
He said: “The only club to have broken ranks on that stance was Aston Villa, who issued a statement at the end of August confirming that they had given Martinez and Buendia permission to join up with Argentina, but on the condition that they would not play in the final qualifier against Bolivia on Thursday night (Friday morning UK time), which would help them be available for the game against Everton on September 18.
“The Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni appeared to have reneged on that agreement when he said last week that the Premier League players in his squad would stay for all three qualifiers, including the Bolivia game. But on Monday it was confirmed that Martinez and Buendia were heading to Europe, with the players understood to be heading to the training camp in Croatia as agreed.”
Make no mistake about it, losing Martinez and Buendia for the weekend game against Chelsea would have been one thing, but potentially missing them for the next Premier League clash against Everton would have been a bitter blow.
Martinez has firmly established himself as Villa’s number one goalkeeper following his arrival from Arsenal last summer, while Buendia is one of the club’s marquee summer signings and has gotten his career off to the perfect start with a goal against Brentford last time out.
Missing the duo for a couple of key games in the top-flight would have robbed Villa of two of their most prominent players, and it’s exactly why the news that they have been allowed by Argentina to return home to Europe, where they will stop off at Croatia for a mini-training camp, is sure to have Smith buzzing.
It will mean that not only will the players be available for that Everton game, but it also has the boost of them not actually playing any added games on international duty and potentially picking up any injuries.