Aston Villa were held to a goalless draw at Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday, and they have goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez to largely thank for securing a hard-fought point.
Dean Smith’s side were second-best from start to finish against the Seagulls, with the outfield players failing to impress at both ends of the pitch.
Martinez made nine saves, denying the hosts with his reflexes and athleticism, and Villa can count themselves lucky for landing such a quality goalie last summer.
The 28-year-old joined the Midlands outfit from Arsenal for £17 million on a four-year deal, and he will surely be in contention for their Player of the Year awards given his brilliant campaign so far.
Martinez described his move to Villa as a step-up in his career despite forfeiting the chance to play European football with the Gunners, and he will be keen to lead his side to a top-seven finish.
The Argentine could be playing Europa League football next season if the Villans have a very strong finish to the campaign, but BBC pundit Garth Crooks believes he should be playing for a side in the top-four.
Playing in the Champions League will definitely be appealing to Martinez, and Crooks has told him to seek playing in the elite European competition elsewhere if he cannot achieve the aim at Villa.
“The Argentine is looking every bit a top-four keeper and if he can’t achieve it with Villa I suggest he does it with someone else,” Crooks told the BBC.
Arsenal are probably not ruing letting Martinez leave given the form and quality of Bernd Leno, but many will argue that the Villa star is better than the German-based on current form.
He definitely has what it takes to play for a Champions League side and clubs might come calling this summer, but Villa will not be keen to lose such a quality goalkeeper any time soon.