ROBERTO Martinez believes Shaun Maloney’s contract extension is as good a signing as Wigan Athletic could make this month.
The Scotland playmaker yesterday committed his future to Latics until the summer of 2015, having established himself as a key cog in the wheel since forcing his way into the side towards the end of last term.
And although Martinez continues to scour the transfer market for further reinforcements, he reckons he has already pulled off his shrewdest acquisition.
He said: “Every time we have a window, everybody gets excited about new faces coming to the club, but to be able to extend the contract of a player of the quality of Shaun Maloney is incredible news.
“He has been very keen to commit himself to the future of our club and what we want to achieve here, and we are delighted he has done that with the best years of his career in front of him.
“Shaun’s technical ability and flair as a player makes him, in my eyes, one of the most talented British players that you will find in the Premier League.”
The news ends any hope Sunderland boss Martin O’Neill may have had of luring him to the North East.
It’s the perfect boost for Latics ahead of tomorrow’s visit of, ironically, the Black Cats.
Martinez added: “Physically he is a player who is at the best moment of his career, and in terms of his understanding of the game and know-how, this is his prime time.
“He could have played for Holland, Spain or any of the most gifted teams around the world in terms of technical ability.
“That’s why he fitted in so well here – he represents a way of playing, performing and conducting himself.
“The first six months here he really had to work hard to up his standards, especially from a physical point of view,.
“Once he’d achieved that he really enjoyed his football and he has an important role within the squad.
“He is part of that British core of players who help the foreign players to understand what it means to play in the British game and to represent Wigan Athletic.”
n Latics last night completed the signing of Spain Under-21 goalkeeper Joel Robles on a six-month loan deal from Atletico Madrid.
Robles impressed during a trial and goes straight into the squad for tomorrow’s Premier league visit of Sunderland after Mike Pollitt picked up a thigh injury at Bournemouth in midweek.