Aston Villa test Arsenal’s resolve with ‘substantially’ improved Martinez bid/Arteta in Rob Holding ‘U-Turn’

Aston Villa have lodged a new and improved offer for Arsenal goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, according to the latest reports.

Leno’s status challenged

The previously simple goalkeeping situation in north London was of course made considerably more complicated over the final months of last season.

Bernd Leno had long stood as no.1 at the Emirates, with the German having represented one of Arsenal’s star men throughout the 2019/20 campaign.

Leno’s stellar form, however, was brought to a halt late in June, when the former Bayer Leverkusen man picked up a nasty knee injury during a Premier League defeat at Brighton.

Bernd Leno accuses Neal Maupay

Arsenal’s German goalkeeper Bernd Leno (on stretcher) remonstrates with Brighton’s French striker Neal Maupay after the keeper was injured during the English Premier League football match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Arsenal at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, southern England on June 20, 2020. (Photo by Mike Hewitt / POOL / AFP)

This, in turn, opened the door for long-time Gunners backup Emiliano Martinez to step up to the plate.

And to say that this was an opportunity which the Argentine went on to grab with both hands would be putting it lightly.

The final weeks of the campaign saw Martinez dazzle between the sticks in north London, a key factor in Arsenal’s run to FA Cup glory.

Villa pressing

In fact, so impressive did Mikel Arteta’s no.2 look during his 11-game starting stretch, that Leno’s first-choice status has since been thrown into doubt ahead of next season.

Many have called for Martinez to be handed an extended chance to prove his talents at the Emirates, with the 27-year-old himself having confirmed that he is only willing to stay put if guaranteed a regular spot between the posts.

This, of course, leaves Arteta and co. with a major dilemma on their hands ahead of the fast-approaching new campaign.

Word stemming from the media, meanwhile, has largely varied regarding Arsenal’s plans, with claims that the Gunners were ‘ready to cash in’ on Martinez having been swiftly followed by suggestions that the Argentine was in fact close to penning a new deal with the club.

Neal Maupay

BRIGHTON, ENGLAND – JUNE 20: Neal Maupay of Brighton and Hove Albion scores his team’s second goal past Emiliano Martinez of Arsenal during the Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Arsenal FC at American Express Community Stadium on June 20, 2020 in Brighton, England. Football Stadiums around Europe remain empty due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in all fixtures being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Whatever the case may be, though, if the latest update surrounding Martinez on Monday is to be believed, then the transfer chiefs at the Emirates look set to be left with little choice but to at least take into consideration the shot-stopper’s sale.

As per Gregg Evans of the Athletic, Aston Villa have tabled a 2nd offer for Martinez.

And, on this occasion, the proposal has come ‘substantially closer’ to Arsenal’s asking price of £20 million.

It now remains to be seen whether the capital giants are prepared to bite.

Arteta reconsiders

In other Arsenal-related transfer news, meanwhile, an update has also been forthcoming on the future of Rob Holding.

Following the arrivals of both William Saliba and Gabriel Magalhaes in north London this summer, the widespread assumption had since been that central defender Holding would be one of those moved on by the Gunners.

In fact, speculation doing the rounds late last month even went as far as to suggest that the 24-year-old was all set to join Newcastle United on a season-long loan.

As per the Daily Mail, however, this no longer looks the case.

It is claimed that Mikel Arteta has been majorly impressed by Holding’s most recent displays, and is, as a result, giving serious consideration to keeping the former Bolton man at the Emirates this coming season.

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This article was edited by Josh Barker.

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