It’s safe to say that Arsenal need to undergo a massive rebuild this summer. Supporters are becoming frustrated due to lack of investment and the north London club are being linked with every player under the sun, despite not actually unveiling their first signing of the summer. Until now.
It’s not a name supporters of the Arsenal will get particularly excited about to start with – partly due to the Brazilian having spent his juvenile life in his native county – however overtime he will grow into a key asset in not only Arsenal’s youth but also the first team, similar to how Matteo Guendouzi adapted to life at Arsenal a year ago.
Following the anticipated release of the Adidas home kit, images of 18-year-old Brazilian wonderkid, Gabriel Martinelli, were splashed across the club’s website and social media platforms. Martinelli was pictured holding a Brazil flag, his native country and a country in which he shone in despite not playing for the biggest team.
Brazilian football expert, Paulo Freitas, provides an insight into the young Brazilian. “Gabriel Martinelli started his senior career at Ituano, a small club in the state of São Paulo,” said Paulo. “He can play anywhere in attack but plays mainly as a left winger and forward. He was named the best newcomer in the São Paulo state league.”
Real Madrid, Manchester United, Barcelona and Benfica have been named among the clubs across Europe keeping tabs on the prodigiously-talented youngster, and the extravagant excitement surrounding him came on the back of the famous Copa São Paulo – a tournament consisting of 120 teenaged football teams across Brazil.
The signing came as a shock to many Arsenal followers, but was Paulo shocked in anyway? “I wasn’t shocked as he was shining since playing the famous Copa São Paulo, which is the most prestigious youth competition in Brazil, said Paulo. “His success attracted the interest of big Brazilian clubs and once he started shining at the state league as well, interest from abroad was inevitable.”
Martinelli had undergone trials at Manchester United just months prior to him heading to north London to secure a six-year deal with the Gunners. But, at just 18-years of age, the deal may have come across too quickly for the Brazilian.
“I think it’s too early for him to move a foreign league, especially to a big club like Arsenal. The move may prove a success if he is given chances though,” added Paulo – who is Brazil’s Head Researcher for Football Manager.
“Besides being versatile, he is a pretty complete player as he has good speed, technique, dribbling, passing and vision, while also having a fairly good vision. These qualities helped him score 10 goals and make six assists at Ituano’s senior team,” expressed Paulo, when asked about Martinelli’s strengths whilst on the pitch. He also went on to add that despite the aforementioned, Martinelli lacks a good left foot and that he may struggle with physicality of the Premier League.”
Furthermore, Gabriel Jesus of Manchester City and Vinicius Junior of Real Madrid are among those to come out of Brazil in recent years and flourish on the big stage, but what makes Martinelli different to the longstanding talent in South America, particularly Brazil? “The fact he managed to shine despite playing for Ituano rather than for a big club is remarkable,” added Paulo. “Ituano lack the squad quality of say Santos or São Paulo, thus Martinelli had to work twice as hard to impress and to lead his team to a successful campaign.”
Martinelli aside, players of Brazilian descent haven’t exactly panned out as originally expected in recent years at Arsenal, despite both Gilberto Silva and Edu Gaspar being prominent figures in the famous ‘invincibles’.
Edu is growing closer to a return to north London as the club’s new technical director following the conclusion of the Copa America. The 41-year-old from São Paulo has a range of knowledge on Brazilian soccer, and despite him not yet officially being a employee of Arsenal Football Club, it’s hard not to recognise Edu’s fingerprints on the deal. It could be the start of a Brazil-to-north London pipeline.
“It’s very likely Edu will want to bring more Brazilian players,” stated Paulo. “His work as coordinator of the Brazilian national team will also help, as he now has connections with several top Brazilian players.”
So, Gabriel Martinelli is Arsenal’s first summer signing. It’s not the name Arsenal supporters were hoping for but he is a very promising prodigy, and one we will look forward to gracing the Emirates carpet.
featured image credit Arsenal.com