Lionel Messi has heaped praise on Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez after Argentina’s 3-0 victory over Uruguay, branding him ‘one of the best goalkeepers in the world’.
The ex-Arsenal stopper made two stunning saves to keep out Luis Suarez in the first half before goals from captain Messi, Rodrigo De Paul and Lautaro Martinez wrapped up the win in World Cup qualifying on Sunday.
Martinez was a heroic figure for Argentina in their run to Copa America glory in the summer, saving three penalties in the penalty shootout win over Colombia in the semi-finals.
And after another solid display for his country, Paris Saint-Germain superstar Messi hailed his ‘fundamental’ team-mate.
‘Dibu [Emiliano] Martinez is fundamental,’ said Messi, via TNT Sports.
‘When they come to him, he always responds.
‘He established himself in goal and we have one of the best goalkeepers in the world.’
Martinez has gone from strength to strength since leaving the Emirates in the summer of 2020 to join Dean Smith’s Villa.
The 29-year-old spent 10 years at Arsenal and was sent out on six different loan spells before getting a real chance in the first team.
That opportunity finally came when Bernd Leno got injured at the end of the 2019-20 campaign, and Martinez took full advantage – producing a string of top performances between the sticks.
However, he couldn’t be given the assurances over playing time that he needed, so made the switch to Villa Park in a deal worth £20million.
The goalkeeper excelled in his first season at the Midlands club, and has started the new Premier League campaign with three clean sheets in six games.
Meanwhile, the Gunners signed Aaron Ramsdale in the latest summer transfer window to provide competition for Leno.
But the 23-year-old has established himself as Mikel Arteta’s first-choice stopper already, having started in the Gunners’ last four Premier League games.
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