Man Utd target Emi Martinez honoured with prehistoric frog in odd Argentina gesture | Football | Sport


Emi Martinez, a reported transfer target for , has been honoured in unusual fashion for his role in Argentina’s win. The goalkeeper was recognised by FIFA for his efforts in Qatar, but he can now count a fossilised frog named in his honour among his career achievements.

Martinez is a late bloomer even for a goalkeeper, but he has made up for lost time since becoming a household name following years on the fringes at Arsenal. The 6ft 5in stopper was on loan at Rotherham United back in 2015, barely managing to nail down a starting spot anywhere until joining Villa three years ago.

Now reportedly wanted by United, Tottenham and others, Martinez was named the world’s best goalkeeper by FIFA after playing a crucial role in Argentina’s stunning World Cup win late last year.

The 30-year-old saved two penalties in a semi-final shoot-out victory over the Netherlands, and his last-gasp stop to deny Randal Kolo Muani in the final was dubbed by some as the greatest save of all time.

Martinez continues to receive plaudits in his homeland, and a group of palaeontologists have decided to name a prehistoric frog in his honour. The fossil of a creature which once held a bony shield to defend itself against predators was recently found 70 miles south of Mendoza.

“It reminded us of Emi because he was like a shield defending the goal of the national team,” said palaeontologist Guillermo Fidel Turazzini.

Tottenham and Chelsea are also reported to be in the mix, with Hugo Lloris and Kepa Arrizabalaga each facing uncertain futures. It was previously thought that Villa may find it tough to keep hold of Martinez this summer, but they nailed down a seventh-place Premier League finish on the final day to seal Europa Conference League qualification.

The goalkeeper, born in Mar del Plata, spent a whole decade on Arsenal’s books but only made 38 first-team appearances, and the vast majority of those came in his final campaign.

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