Emiliano Martinez’s Arsenal future remains in serious question as Brighton join Aston Villa in the race to sign the Argentine goalkeeper.
Martinez, who arrived at the Emirates in 2010, has made clear his stance that he wants regular first-team football, having starred in the club’s FA Cup success.
He wants to be Argentina’s keeper at the next World Cup, and knows that unless he’s playing week in week out, then he won’t be displacing Sergio Romero – despite the irony of the Manchester United stopper only being backup at club level.
Aston Villa boss Dean Smith is keen to take Martinez to the West Midlands to be their new No.1, and has already seen a couple of bids knocked back.
Talks remain ongoing between the two clubs.
And now Brighton have joined the race for his signature – although neither side has come close to meeting Arsenal’s £20million valuation.
Martinez has been clear that he would prefer to stay at the Emirates and sign a new contract with the Gunners if he was Arsenal ’s first choice.
But with Bernd Leno back fit, the German looks likely to start in goal at Fulham on Saturday.
Asked on Friday if he expects Martinez to still be an Arsenal player when the transfer window closes, the Spaniard said: “I cannot stop all the speculation that we have about players coming in and out.
“I will say that I don’t want to comment on any individuals at the moment without having the right answers.”
Saturday’s selection will go some way to showing both stoppers who is top of the pecking order within the club’s ‘keeper ranks however.
Nevertheless, Arteta insists that does not mean he is the outright No.1.
“I don’t treat the goalkeeping position any differently to the others,” he continued.
“I think the one that in my opinion is training better with the goalkeeping coach has the better chance to start tomorrow and my decision will be consistent like that throughout this season.”
Asked whether it is merely the starter’s position to lose, Arteta said: “Exactly. It’s for the other one to push and make him better and when his chance comes, be ready and help the team as they both did last season – Both were fantastic in my opinion.”
If Martinez departs, Arsenal will need a new No.2, with Brentford’s David Raya their top choice.
However, Bees boss Thomas Frank insists he’s going nowhere, affirming on Friday: I said one week ago that if the price is right for Ollie Watkins or Said Benrahma, we are open, because that’s the way football works. The rest are not for sale.”
Asked to clarify his position on Raya, Frank responded: “I would like to repeat myself. If the price is right for Ollie Watkins and Said Benrahma, then they are for sale. The rest are not for sale.”