Rising goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez has joined Aston Villa from Arsenal, amid suggestions he could have threatened Socceroos goalkeeper Mat Ryan’s job at Brighton.
Villa announced the signing Martinez on Wednesday for a reported fee of £20 million ($A35 million).
The 28-year-old Argentine, who has signed a four-year deal, helped Arsenal to FA Cup victory last season and Community Shield glory last month but faced playing second fiddle to Bernd Leno this season.
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While it’s a coup for Villa, it’s also a welcome relief for Ryan, the last Australian still playing in the Premier League after Aaron Mooy’s move to China.
Reports in the UK last week claimed Brighton had entered the race to sign Martinez, a move that would have left Ryan out of the cold.
The Australian has established himself as one of the Premier League’s best keepers but he came in for some criticism after an error-riddled performance in a season-opening 3-1 loss to Chelsea.
Ryan, though, claimed he was unfazed by the reports, telling the Sydney Morning Herald: “If it was to happen, I back myself to get on with it and do all I can to maintain my place [in the team]. But right now, that particular circumstance isn’t a reality. There’s a lot of speculation so I’m not getting caught up in any of that.”
Villa boss Dean Smith said: “We are really pleased with the signing of our new goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez. We know how highly Arsenal rated him and we watched his outstanding performances last season in a trophy-winning top side.
“We moved for Emi when we saw the opportunity, as it is rare to be able to buy a top-class goalkeeper who hasn’t yet reached their peak age and who can therefore be a key player for our club for the long term.”
It caps a big few days for Villa, who re-signed England international Jack Grealish to a new five-year contract.
CHELSEA LEGEND BACK IN PL AT 36
Meanwhile, West Brom have announced the signing of former Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic, who arrives at the Hawthorns on a free transfer from Zenit St Petersburg.
The Serbia international won three Premier League titles and the Champions League during his nine-year spell at Stamford Bridge, which ended in 2017.
West Brom marked their return to the Premier League with a 3-0 defeat to Leicester on Sunday.
“The Premier League is the best league in the world,” Ivanovic, 36, told the club’s official website.
“I need to challenge myself and I am ready for the challenge. I am really happy to be back playing in the Premier League.” West Brom boss Slaven Bilic said: “He’s a great addition for us, a team who are newly promoted in the Premier League. He ticks all the boxes for us.
“He’s done everything in his career — it’s been magnificent. We’re delighted. He adds quality and experience on the pitch and off the pitch.”