An impossible coup? Perhaps, but in the past few weeks, as Tottenham have been quietly sounding out possible replacements in the event Hugo Lloris leaves the club this summer, one name has drawn repeated interest from managing director Fabio Paratici: Emiliano Martinez.
The Independent understands Tottenham have been investigating the viability of luring the former Arsenal goalkeeper back to north London in what would be a spectacularly divisive transfer. Next summer, the Argentine No 1 will have two years remaining on the four-year contract he signed with Aston Villa in the summer of 2020.
Since joining for £20m from Arsenal, Martinez’s stature has grown immensely and he is at the core of Villa’s planning for the future, with Dean Smith’s side having no intention of entertaining a sale. The summer will, unavoidably, represent the peak of Martinez’s value, though, and Spurs have been speaking to insiders about whether a deal may be feasible, the possible price tag, and whether Martinez himself would be interested.
There is an acceptance that any deal would prove very difficult to negotiate, with Martinez a popular figure in the Villa dressing room, who is unlikely to agitate to leave, and Spurs have looked at several other targets, too. Among them, Real Sociedad’s Alex Remiro and Napoli’s Alex Meret feature on the list. Spurs have also retained an interest in West Brom’s Sam Johnstone, whose impressive form led to an England call-up last season. The 28-year-old’s contract expires at the end of the season.
The trio may represent more practical options if Spurs decide against offering Loris a new deal. “I know I am in the last stages of my career,” the Spurs captain, who will turn 35 in December, said recently. “I have, I don’t know, three or four years ahead of me. I know that I have to take advantage of it even more than before because one day, it will stop.”
However, in terms of performance, Premier League experience, and the added allure of spiting their rivals, Martinez is unsurprisingly considered an outstanding option. His signing represented something of a risk for Villa, with the 29-year-old’s FA Cup-winning breakthrough only offering a small sample size of form. However, he stood out throughout the 2020/21 season and burnished his reputation further by playing a key role in Argentina’s Copa America victory in the summer.
It is a fanciful prospect for Spurs, but one they’ve given genuine interest. Any pursuit will, of course, hinge on the decision over Lloris. Whether it is then seen as financially practical to officially pursue an attempt to dislodge Martinez from Villa this summer remains another matter entirely.