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Emi Martinez: Is the Aston Villa goalkeeper the best in the world?

Emi Martinez was Aston Villa's shoot-out hero, saving Lille's first penalty before then keeping out the decisive spot-kick to send his side into the semi-finals of the Europa Conference League; Sky Sports' Gerard Brand and Lewis Jones debate whether Martinez is the best on the planet

Image: Is Aston Villa's Emi Martinez the best goalkeeper in the world?

Aston Villa's penalty shoot-out hero Emi Martinez has been hailed as the "best goalkeeper in the world" by former Villa hero Lee Hendrie - but is he right?

Villa beat Lille on penalties to make the Europa Conference League semi-finals after some Martinez heroics in the shoot-out.

Hendrie, who was covering the game for Sky Sports News, raved at full-time, declaring: "Martinez is the main man. It's unbelievable. He's the best goalkeeper in the world. I can't believe Arsenal let him go. Villa into the semi-finals. Let's have it.

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Pete Smith explains why Emi Martinez escaped a red card despite being shown two yellow cards against Lille but will be suspended from Aston Villa’s Europa Conference League semi-final against Olympiacos.

"The big players turn up in the big moments. The fans gave him no end of stick.

"He gave them a Ricky Gervais dance at the end. I'm thrilled for the club and for Martinez. That's the way to silence the crowd."

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Confusion reigns as Lee Hendrie reacts to Martinez receiving his second yellow card of the game during Aston Villa's penalty shoot-out at Lille - but avoids a red card!

Is Hendrie right? Sky Sports' Gerard Brand and Lewis Jones debate whether or not Martinez is the best on the planet....

The case for: His ego resonates throughout the defence

Emi Martinez, Aston Villa
Image: Martinez was the hero for Aston Villa against Lille on Thursday

Sky Sports' Gerard Brand:

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"Hendrie is right, Martinez is the best in the world. He hasn't shown any weaknesses to his game over a sustained period. His shot-stopping and aerial ability is obviously outstanding. His passing is fantastic, too. He is the epitome of Unai Emery's style of play of refusing to go long, starting attacks deep and being able to play through the press.

"But there's more to Martinez which makes him unique. He has an ego about him that seems to resonate throughout the defence, and that helps when trying to play Emery's way, which requires a huge amount of bravery with the high-line. Being the last line of defence, you need someone to rely on, someone that can get you out of bother and Martinez is that guy. He steps up on the big occasion. The bigger the game, the bigger the performance.

Emi Martinez

"Last night in the last minute of extra-time he put his foot on the ball to waste time to make sure the game went to penalties instead of pushing for a winner. It was like he knew he'd be the match-winner in that scenario.

Emi Martinez, Aston Villa

"And he was right. There is nobody better."

The case against: Ederson and Alisson are still clear

Manchester City's goalkeeper Ederson celebrates at the end of an English Premier League soccer match between Manchester City and Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, England, Sunday, March 3, 2024. (AP Photo/Dave Thompson)
Image: Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson

Sky Sports' Lewis Jones:

"Excuse the simplicity, but picking a world XI is usually a sound way of figuring out whether a player is the best in the world for his position. And it is absolutely the way to conclude whether a goalkeeper is the best in the world. Only one goalkeeper can play, whereas you can be a little bit creative with your line-up when discussing outfield players being the best of the best.

Liverpool's goalkeeper Alisson during the English Premier League soccer match between Wolverhampton and Liverpool at the Molineux stadium in Wolverhampton, England, Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
Image: Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson

"Martinez is a fantastic goalkeeper, no question, with a World Cup winner's medal to prove it and an impressive body of work with Aston Villa. Martinez, of course, won the Golden Glove in Qatar, producing some heroics in the penalty shoot-out win against France in the final and his performance in Lille was spectacular.

"But the best in the world? No, no. no.

"Martinez was sensational for Argentina in Qatar but international football tournaments aren't the environments anymore where we can truly judge a world-class player. Top-level European club competitions and the top end of the Premier League, maybe the Bundesliga and LaLiga, are where we can gain a true measure of analysing a player over a larger sample size.


"Where would that Argentina team finish if they were somehow parachuted into this year's Champions League? Quarter-finals? Maybe a semi-final?

"Until I see Martinez perform consistently at the very top level, for example in the Champions League knockout stages and a Premier League title race, the evidence just isn't there to declare him as the best in the world. Ederson, Alisson - and even someone like Thibaut Courtois when fit - are still ahead of him in the pecking order."

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