Aston Villa manager Unai Emery is 'desperate' to sell goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, according to a sensational report by Spanish news outlet Fichajes.
Martinez starred for Argentina in their 2022 FIFA World Cup triumph, picking up the Golden Glove award for being the best goalkeeper of the tournament. He kept three clean sheets in seven games, saved two penalties in the shootout in the quarterfinals against the Netherlands. Martinez made one crucial block on France's Randal Kolo Muani in extra time of the final to send the game to penalties, where he saved another spot-kick.
Despite his phenomenal displays, though, Martinez isn't wanted by Emery, who replaced Steven Gerrard as Villa's permanent manager following the latter's sacking in October.
Fichajes reports that Emery is unimpressed with the player's temperament and wants to sell him in January, with Sevilla custodian Yassine Bounou touted as a potential replacement. Bounou starred for Morocco at the 2022 FIFA World Cup and kept three clean sheets, more than any other goalkeeper in the tournament.
Emery's frustrations with Martinez could have something to do with his antics after winning the World Cup. The Argentine goalkeeper made a lewd celebration after claiming the Golden Glove award before mocking Kylian Mbappe during a bus parade in Buenos Aires.
He was seen holding a doll with Mbappe's face stuck on it. That also irked the French FA, who later lodged a complaint against Martinez, saying it was 'going too far' now.
Martinez is currently out on break following his heroics at the Qatar showpiece and won't play against Liverpool on Boxing Day on Monday, Emery confirmed. Speaking to the press ahead of the clash, the Villa manager said (via SPORTbible):
"He's coming back next week. I want him to rest now because after big emotion and hard work, he has to have some days off to rest, then he'll come back to work with us."
Aston Villa are 12th in the Premier League with 18 points in 15 games.
Unai Emery reviving Aston Villa
Since taking charge of Aston Villa, Unai Emery has done a great job, winning three of his four Premier League games, with his team scoring nine goals and conceding twice in the wins.
The stunning 4-0 demolition against Newcastle United is the only sore note, although Emery's team also went down 4-2 to Manchester United in the Carabao Cup.
Nonetheless, there has been visible improvement, with Aston Villa being more dangerous in attack after looking toothless under Gerrard earlier on in the season. A win over Liverpool on Monday would be the perfect end to a turbulent year.