Unai Emery publicly criticized Emiliano Martinez for his decision to go up for a last-minute Aston Villa corner, which enabled Arsenal to score on the counter-attack in added time and secure a second injury-time goal and a 4-2 win.
The Villa manager’s rare dig at one of his players provided further fuel to rumors that there is a clash of personalities between him and one of the star players at the club.
According to sources, there is indeed a genuine and deep-rooted clash of personalities between Emery and Martinez. This friction was first reported in late November, with the tension between the two putting the Argentine’s long-term future at Villa in jeopardy.
Despite Martinez’s return to Villa as a World Cup winner and undisputed first choice, the discord between him and Emery has not dissipated. Sources suggest that the pair had a “fall-out” at Arsenal during Emery’s 18-month spell as the club’s manager.
Observers noted how Emery leaped at the opportunity to hit out at Martinez for the decision that effectively turned a narrow 3-2 defeat into a relatively heavy 4-2 home loss.
While some may argue that Martinez’s decision was reasonable, it is clear that the criticism from his manager has only added to the already tense relationship between the two.
Martinez was widely regarded as Villa’s best player in the previous two seasons and was key to their maintaining their Premier League status.
He was rewarded with a new and improved five-year contract in January 2022. However, his effectiveness this season has not been as high as it was before, with regular observers noting a drop in his standards.
There is also interest from Villa in Sevilla keeper Yassine Bounou, who Emery is a huge admirer of.
Bounou, who plays for Emery’s former club and starred for Morocco at the World Cup, is widely regarded as one of the best keepers in La Liga.
This interest adds another layer to the tension between Emery and Martinez, as the Villa goalkeeper’s long-term future at the club is now in doubt.
If Martinez’s form continues to decline, it is possible that Villa will make a move for Bounou in the summer.
This would effectively spell the end of Martinez’s time at the club, and Emery’s clash with the goalkeeper would have played a significant role in his departure.
It remains to be seen how this situation will develop, but it is clear that there is a significant rift between Emery and Martinez.
The manager’s criticism of the goalkeeper was not well-received by many, and there are concerns that this could have a negative impact on the team as a whole.
Despite this, Villa remain focused on maintaining their Premier League status and will be hoping that Martinez can return to his previous form to help them achieve this goal.
However, if his struggles continue, it is likely that the club will be forced to consider their options, which could have significant implications for both Martinez and Emery.