Emiliano Martinez has revealed he asked Mikel Arteta in a text to let him join Aston Villa after failing to get the assurances he needed that he would be Arsenal No.1 this season.
The Argentine keeper returned to his former club for the first time on Sunday night following his £20 million ($26.5m) switch to Villa Park and helped his new side to a convincing 3-0 victory.
It was Martinez’s fourth clean sheet in seven games this season and his exit in the summer remains a source of frustration for many Arsenal fans, who believe the club should have done more to make him stay.
But speaking after Sunday night’s game, Martinez opened up on his decision to leave after more than 10 years in north London and revealed he was determined to move on, having been unable to overtake Bernd Leno in the pecking order at Arsenal despite his superb form during the final months of last season when he stepped in for the injured German stopper.
“I told him [Arteta] I wanted to play week in, week out and he couldn’t guarantee who was going to start,” said the 28-year-old.
“Even before the Community Shield, he didn’t know who was going to play in goal. After 10 years at the club, I didn’t want to wait until Friday night, the day before the game, to know whether I was going to play against Fulham [on the opening weekend] or not.
“So I just texted him to say I was going to Aston Villa, so please help me and let me go.”
Martinez traveled up to Birmingham while Arsenal were beating Fulham at Craven Cottage on the opening weekend of the Premier League campaign and completed his move to Villa Park soon after.
The popular keeper insists he holds no grudges over failing to oust Leno in the battle to Arsenal No.1 and has thanked Arteta for allowing him to leave when the opportunity arose.
“He was very honest and very open with me,” said the keeper. “He helped me to leave the club after so many years.
“Obviously I have ambitions and he couldn’t help the ambitions that I wanted, so we had a clear conversation. He’s a very honest man and a great leader.
“I’ve already said how grateful I am for that and how pleased I am about how well he is doing at Arsenal. I’m so happy he is the leader of the club.”
Martinez added: “When I decided to come to Villa it was because I trusted the manager and the club’s ambitions, and I knew how big Villa were.
“Some people do not realise how big Aston Villa are. They were all saying it was a step down in my career, but I always said it was a step up.
“They called me from day one after the win against Chelsea in the FA Cup final.
“I just wanted to play first-team football and Arsenal could not guarantee me that. They would not say I was going to play in the first game of the season against Fulham so when I had that doubt I had to leave. And Villa were the first option and the only one for me.”