Emiliano Martinez has thanked Mikel Arteta and Arsenal for allowing him to leave the club and says they completely respected his request for guaranteed first-team minutes elsewhere.
The Argentine – who had been at the north London club for a decade – gave a string of heroic performances after the season restart, helping win the FA Cup and Community Shield.
But with Arteta restoring Bernd Leno as his number one keeper for the new season, Martinez knew he needed to leave the Emirates and completed a £20million move to Aston Villa on Wednesday.
While Martinez leaves with a heavy heart he feels he needs guaranteed game time to secure his place as Argentina’s first-choice goalkeeper and says Arteta and Arsenal’s hierarchy were happy to grant his wish.
Speaking to Arsenal’s website, he said: ‘I think I won three FA Cups, three Community Shields [before last season], but actually I wasn’t part of the team, I wasn’t getting the minutes that I needed.
‘So I never felt that I won it. I was part of the team, but I never felt like it was mine. And I had to go on loan after loan after loan to come back and have a chance to become the keeper I am today.
‘And when I won those trophies, it was “this is me”. Arsenal obviously they tried to retain me and obviously I spoke with Mikel, I spoke with the club.
‘But they understood my decision and they respected it. And that’s Arsenal, you know. When you give everything for the club they will respect you.
‘So I am grateful to be the player I am and the person I am. I came here as a young boy, single, from Argentina, from a poor country, a poor family. And I’m leaving with a wife, with a kid, and as a man. And everything is because of Arsenal as well.’
He added: ‘I just want to say to the fans that they should trust the process, they are doing really good work with Mikel and his staff and I wish them all the best.’
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