Emiliano Martinez has been in the headlines following his key role in helping Argentina win the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar earlier this month.
The Aston Villa goalkeeper was a key performer for La Albiceleste throughout the tournament and came up clutch in the finals as well. With the score at 3-3 in extra-time, he pulled off a marvelous save to deny France striker Randal Kolo Muani to force the game into penalties.
Once the shootout started, Martinez made a top stop to keep Kingsley Coman out, which put pressure on France’s next taker – Aurelien Tchouameni.
The 22-year-old Real Madrid ace had been a mainstay for France throughout the tournament in Qatar, but was entering a pressure-cooker situation in the shootout in the finals of the World Cup.
And Martinez, in a recent interview, has admitted that he played mind games with Tchouameni to make him miss the target, at which he eventually succeeded.
“When I saved the first penalty, I knew the other boy (Tchouameni) was going to be very nervous. I tried to play him mentally, throwing the ball away, saying things to him. And he shot outside, he screwed up everything,” Martinez said (h/t MARCA).
Despite the penalty miss, there is no taking away that Tchouameni had a solid World Cup. In the biggest tournament of his career to date, the young midfielder held his own and carried the France midfield in the absence of stalwarts like Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante.
The Real Madrid ace has been targeted by racist abuse on social media following the finals of the World Cup – much like Marcus Rashford and Bukayo Saka of England were last year when they missed from the penalty spot in the UEFA Euro 2020 against Italy.
The midfielder is expected to rejoin Real Madrid in training next week, just before the team plays Real Valladolid in their first La Liga match after the World Cup break.
Real Madrid the most likely destination for Kylian Mbappe with Liverpool not pushing for transfer
Journalist Florian Plettenberg has affirmed that despite Liverpool’s continued interest, Real Madrid remain the most realistic destination for Kylian Mbappe either for next year or the year after that.
As far as PSG are concerned, the Ligue 1 champions are totally relaxed over the drama as they are now financially secure for his possible departure. Nonetheless, Liverpool are not at all pushing for the player which leaves Real Madrid as the only team as suitors.
Mbappe has declined an extension offer from PSG, as his current deal is set to expire in 2024 and the 24-year-old forward seems poised to determine his future destination sooner rather than later.
As for Real Madrid, while they have denied holding any talks with the 2018 FIFA World Cup winner, the interest in him has always been there as he remains one of the club’s main targets for 2024.
One last attempt for Mbappe?
Real Madrid have been chasing Mbappe since 2021 and while there have been instances when he almost joined, the move has always failed to materialise for some reason.
Last year, he ended up signing a new contract and this year, as he looked certain to leave PSG, a sudden change of heart saw him stay put. Now, there are going to be some repercussions of his continued ignorance.
These repercussions Mbappe will experience if rejects Madrid once again as it is said that the team from the Spanish capital is fed up with playing this game and if the move fails next summer, the door for Mbappe will be closed forever.
On the contrary, Plettenberg reports that it is not a matter of if for Mbappe, but a matter of when.
So even if they somehow miss out on his acquisition this summer, they will be able to sign him in 2025 as they are currently the only team running for his signature.