Aston Villa boss Unai Emery has played down speculation over World Cup winner Emi Martinez’s future amid claims the club could cash in on him.
The 30-year-old played a key role in Argentina’s success in Qatar and has made no secret of his desire to play Champions League football, something he is unlikely to do at Villa in the short-term.
Reports have suggested the midlands club could be open to offers for him this summer, but Emery has insisted he is happy where he is and challenged him to use his experience to help further the project upon which he embarked when he took up the reins in October.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference ahead of Saturday’s Premier League trip to Everton, the Villa boss said: “He is a very good guy, he is a very good goalkeeper.
“He improves a lot, he now has experience – he is the best, no? He is the best goalkeeper for us.
“We have to enjoy (life) with him. He is very committed with us, with Aston Villa – and now more even than before because he won the World Cup.
“For him, it’s very important, but he knows as well his new challenge is now with this club because this club signed him three years ago. That is the reason he is, as well, very happy.
“My conversation with him is around how we can do something together and the challenge for him now is here, and to try to do in the next matches, the next year, this project, improving and trying to use his experience helping other players, helping the club, helping to support Aston Villa.”
Martinez will hope for better fortunes on the pitch this weekend as Villa attempt to end a three-game losing streak during which he has conceded nine goals, the last of them in freak circumstances as Jorginho’s shot came back off the crossbar and hit him on the head before crossing the line to cement Arsenal’s 4-2 win.
Emery’s men are currently five places and seven points better off than the Toffees, who have won two of their three league games under Sean Dyche.
Villa’s head coach said: “I think now, they are confident at home, they have won the last two matches at home, with their supporters.
“And, of course, they are behind us in the table, but there is not a lot of difference between both.
“We have to continue trying to escape from the bottom. It’s a very, very important match on Saturday.”