Aston Villa announced the signing of Arsenal goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez on Wednesday for a reported fee of £20 million ($26 million).

The 28-year-old Argentine, who has signed a four-year deal, helped Arsenal to FA Cup victory last season and Community Shield glory last month but faced playing second fiddle to Bernd Leno.

Read: He waited 10 years for a chance at Arsenal. When it arrived, Emi Martinez grabbed it with both hands

Villa boss Dean Smith said: “We are really pleased with the signing of our new goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez.

“We know how highly Arsenal rated him and we watched his outstanding performances last season in a trophy-winning top side.

“We moved for Emi when we saw the opportunity, as it is rare to be able to buy a top-class goalkeeper who hasn’t yet reached their peak age and who can therefore be a key player for our club for the long term.”

‘Grateful to the Arsenal family’

The Argentine goalkeeper who waited patiently for his chance in north London that finally arrived last season said it was a strange feeling for him to leave a place where he spent 11 years.

“I thank all the Arsenal fans. I’m grateful to the Arsenal family for the time I spent here,” he said in a final interview with the club.

“A lot of players leave without saying goodbye to their fans. The fans make you feel the warmth at a club. They support you, they send you texts. I really appreciate that. I love the Arsenal fans and I think they’re one of the best fans in the world,” he added.

Martinez could make his Villa debut at the weekend when Dean Smith’s side face Sheffield United in their first Premier League game of the season having got the first weekend off.

(With AFP inputs)