Emiliano Martinez, Aston Villa 2020-21Getty

Going from Arsenal to Aston Villa is a step up - Martinez

Emiliano Martinez has insisted that going from Arsenal to Aston Villa is a "step up" in his career.

Martinez's ten-year association with Arsenal came to an end when he completed a £20 million ($25m) move to Villa on September 16.

The Argentine joined the Gunners' academy ranks in 2010 before graduating to the senior squad two years later, but ended up being sent out on loan six times between 2012 and 2020.

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It wasn't until Bernd Leno suffered an injury post-lockdown that Martinez was given his chance to shine, and he quickly established himself as a cult hero among supporters.

The 28-year-old was sensational between the sticks as Arsenal finished their last Premier League campaign strongly while also going all the way in the FA Cup, leaving Mikel Arteta with a selection headache ahead of the new season.

The Spanish boss ultimately decided to stick with Leno as his number one upon the German's return to full fitness, but Martinez was not prepared to stick around and serve as a backup 'keeper any longer.

He joined Villa with a view to earning a regular spot in Argentina's national set-up, and has no regrets over his decision to leave the Emirates Stadium.

"I'm in the best shape of my career and when I didn't have the security of that game time, I wasn't sure about staying," Martinez told Sky Sports. "I'm fighting to be Argentina's number one, that's my dream.

"Aston Villa is a massive club, I had no doubts over coming here. Everyone thinks it's a step down going from Arsenal to Villa, but I actually think it's a step up in my career."

The former Gunners shot-stopper went on to dismiss any suggestion that he was happy to stay on the bench at the Emirates over the past decade, before outlining his ambitions to qualify for Europe with Villa ahead of a meeting with reigning Premier League champions Liverpool on Sunday.

"People don't realise how much I'd been fighting to get on the bench. I had nine goalkeepers in front of me," Martinez added.

"Once on the bench, I wanted to be number one. Once I got the number one shirt, and I wasn't sure I was going to keep it, I said I'll go and be the number one somewhere else.

"My ambition was always trying to be number one at Arsenal, coming through their academy was not easy. People that talk outside of football know nothing about football.

"I want to be in Europe with Villa next season. Everyone at the club thinks we can have a great season, which drives me forward. We've got two wins on the bounce, so we've got nothing to lose against Liverpool.

"If you want to achieve something in the league, you have to beat the best, which is what we will try to do on Sunday."