Lionel Messi has heaped praise upon Arsenal’s former goalkeeper and his Argentina teammate Emiliano Martinez – insisting the now-Aston Villa man is one of the best players in his position in the world. Martinez has kept two clean sheets in a row for his country in the most recent international break, with Argentina drawing 0-0 with Paraguay on Friday and beating Uruguay 3-0 on Monday.
The 29-year-old was particularly impressive against Uruguay, making a number of fine saves to deny the likes of Luis Suarez and inspire his side to victory.
Martinez was also lauded earlier in the season for psyching out Bruno Fernandes and causing him to miss a last-minute penalty in Villa’s 1-0 win against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
And there is a widespread belief that the Gunners made a huge error by allowing him to leave when he joined the midlanders for a fee of £20m last year.
Speaking after the Uruguay game, in which Messi scored the opener, the six-time Ballon d’Or winner was asked about his colleague’s impressive displays of late.
And he replied: “Dibu [Emiliano] Martinez is fundamental. When they come to him, he always responds.
“He established himself in goal and we have one of the best goalkeepers in the world.”
Martinez certainly seems to be enjoying himself at the moment, and has kept three clean sheets for Villa so far this season with Dean Smith’s side sitting in tenth place in the Premier League but still only four points off the Champions League qualification places.
Speaking at the start of the season he certainly did not appear to have any regrets about leaving Arsenal.
“They (Villa) opened the door for me,” he said. “After the Copa America in the summer they might have been worried about me going to a Champions League club, but the first thing I said to the director is ‘I want to be here’.
“It’s a club who have helped me be a No.1 and play every single league game and I’m really grateful for it.
“It’s a club I really want to be in and I love everything about Aston Villa, especially the fans, and I can’t wait to see a full Villa Park.”
Argentina have one more game left in the current international break as they face Peru on Friday.
As a result it looks like Martinez will miss Villa’s game against Wolves the following day.
But he should return to take on his old team when Villa travel to Arsenal on Friday October 22.