Exclusive - Aston Villa are ready to open talks with goalkeeper Emi Martinez over a new long-term deal after he emerged as a transfer target for a top European club.
After a brilliant domestic season with Villa, Martinez went on to star at Copa America - confirming himself as his country’s number one as Argentina lifted the trophy. The highlight of his summer was in the semi-final as he saved three penalties in the shootout victory over Colombia.
Likely as a direct result of the stopper's fine form, 90min has learned that an unnamed, big European side recently made contact with Martinez’s camp to check on his availability.
The 28-year-old signed a four-year contract when he arrived in a £20m transfer from Arsenal last summer, which now looks extremely good value – especially considering his former club are now looking for a new number one.
Villa know that Martinez is not looking for an early exit, but with his reputation building they are ready to table new and improved terms for the keeper to fend off any interested parties.
The Villans are already engaged in a battle to keep another of their stars this summer, with Man City confident of luring captain Jack Grealish away from Villa Park.
One of those who has come through the doors is Emi Buendia, and Martinez played a part in that deal as he made contact with the then-Norwich man and helped convince his compatriot to make the move to the Midlands ahead of his former club Arsenal, something Buendia has since admitted himself.
"He [Martinez] already told me about a lot of the club and the city," said Buendia, as quoted by OneFootball. “He told me a lot of very good things about everything. Of course, to have someone like him is very good for my adaptation. So it will be better."