Aston Villa made one very “astute” signing during the summer transfer window, according to former shot-stopper David James MBE.
Speaking exclusively to FootballFanCast, the 50-year-old pundit believes Dean Smith’s £20m swoop for Arsenal goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez earlier this month was rather smart business.
The Argentina international swapped north London for Villa Park after an eight-year spell and has become an instant first-choice ahead of Tom Heaton, Orjan Nyland and Jed Steer.
Martinez has already kept a clean sheet in both his Premier League appearances this season against Sheffield United and Fulham. The 28-year-old even saved a penalty on debut against the Blades.
James, who was speaking at Utilita’s ‘Switch before Pitch‘ campaign for grassroots football, said…
“When he started playing at the end of the season for Arsenal, I thought who’s this guy they must’ve signed in the window. I really had no clue. I just saw this big fella doing really, really well and I didn’t realise he had been at Arsenal for eight or nine years. As a number two, he wasn’t going to get in ahead of [Bernd] Leno once Leno was fit again. He had proved himself.
“He joined Villa in a similar way I joined Aston Villa because I still had a year left on my contract at Liverpool and I wasn’t prepared to be a number two. Realistically, I didn’t see myself as number one next season and I wanted to play first-team football, so my move to Aston Villa was very similar to Martinez. Although I didn’t save a penalty on my debut for Aston Villa.
“I was better in my thirties than I was in my twenties, so yeah age and experience will obviously help. You have to have the ability to be able to get better when you’re older. I think Martinez is 28, 29 years old. There’s still a lot to come from him and that’s an astute signing from Aston Villa.”
The 6 foot 5 colossus was finally handed an opportunity at the Emirates Stadium last season, playing a total of 23 matches in the absence of Bernd Leno but despite his form, he wasn’t able to become Mikel Arteta’s number one for this campaign.
After eight years and six loan spells, Martinez finally gets his wish of being the main man at Villa Park and just as James explains, it could be one hell of a signing come to the end of the season.