When Gabriel Martinelli arrived in the summer of 2019 from third tier Brazilian side Ituano FC, not many would have predicted the teenagers incredible impact in his first season in arguably the toughest league in the world, however the 19-year old has been nothing short of a revelation leading him to gain plaudits from some of the greatest managers and players of all time, while establishing himself as a first team regular at Arsenal.
“Arsenal’s Martinelli can emulate Ronaldo.”
“Martinelli’s pretty much the same age but he’s a talent of the century, he’s an incredible striker.”
— Jurgen Klopp
Unfortunately, Martinelli’s season was cut short due to an injury he sustained in training, meaning Arsenal fans will be unable to see his energetic displays on the pitch until early next year. The youngster went under the knife last month to repair a damaged lesion in the cartilage of his knee, as a result it meant he played no part in Arsenal’s league campaign or FA Cup triumph after the restart, despite this the Brazilian made a lasting impression with his outstanding performances prior to this setback, hence why our whole fanbase are counting down the days before we see him in the red and white of Arsenal again.
2019/20 Season Stats
Premier League: 14 games – 3 goals (219 mins per goal)
Europa League: 7 games – 3 goals and 3 assists (141 mins per goal)
EFL Cup: 2 games – 4 goals (45 minutes per goal)
FA Cup: 3 games – 1 assist
Overall Stats: 26 games – 10 goals and 4 assists
At the time of this transfer, it was widely reported that Martinelli would be apart of the U23 squad for the season, however after his immediate impact during pre-season under Unai Emery it was clear to see that the 19-year old was more than ready to be apart of the first team squad, initially picking up minutes in the Europa League along with a few short cameos as a substitute in the Premier League. Nevertheless, Gabby’s relentless attitude meant he was able to force his way into playing more regularly, with his willingness to learn and versatility to perform in any position across the front three going a long way in eventually making him a vital asset to the squad.
After multiple breakthrough performances, more notable against Liverpool in the League Cup and when Standard Liege visited the Emirates, his role within the squad was starting to become more important as he rose up the pecking order when Freddie Ljungberg took over on an interim basis. The stand-in Swedish coach showed Martinelli copious amounts of faith, by handing the youngster his first Premier League start against London rivals West Ham, in a game where Arsenal were desperate for all three points. As Gabby had shown previously, he single-handily elevated the level of his teammates and inspired the Gunners comeback through his instinctive movement in the box, while having the composure and finish to match.
The Brazilian also showcased his elite mentality after he had got Arsenal back into the game, as his initial reaction was to grab the ball and put in on the center circle instead of celebrating his first Premier League goal. Moments such as this one is why he is rated so highly in the footballing world and is an aspect of his game that separates him from other young prospects, as he seems to have developed that killer instinct already.
The 19-year old’s influence in the Premier League grew with every game, especially once Arteta took over, as early into his reign an already struggling Arsenal side were set to be without their main source of goals for three games, when Aubameyang was shown a straight red card against Crystal Palace. With Arsenal’s European status at stake, Martinelli was thrown into the starting eleven against a high flying Sheffield United side at home. It turned out to be another display which only increased his stock, building his reputation as a player that Arsenal can rely on when we need him most, as he opened the scoring when he was found in the box after showing further evidence of his predatory movement, giving the striker a simple finish into an empty net.
In the next game, Arteta’s side travelled to Stamford Bridge and after some calamitous defending we found ourselves not only a goal down, but a man down as well. The teams newly found never say die spirit was spearheaded by our young superstar, with perhaps Gabby’s finest moment of the season coming in the form of a 70 meter lung-busting run, which highlighted everything his game is about, ended with him slotting it past Kepa in a Thierry Henry like fashion to help salvage a draw.
These performances proved that Martinelli has the ability to step up when we are missing key players, dragging us to results we probably wouldn’t have been able to get without him, demonstrating his immense talent and value to the club at such a young age. Not only this, but considering this was his first season in England at a huge club with new surroundings, a completely different language coupled with the fact that he played under three different managers this was certainly a scintillating start to life as an Arsenal player.
Season Rating: 8/10
What can we except from Martinelli next season?
Expectations going into next season will be considerably higher for Martinelli than they were heading into the last campaign, as he’s shown glimpses of pure brilliance, despite the difficult circumstances the club found themselves in throughout the course of the season. Undoubtedly, he will need to be given time to fully recover from this unpleasant injury as by the time of his return it would have kept him out for action for roughly 6 months, therefore he will need to be slowly eased back into the fold. Although, with his kind of mentality, I have no skepticism about whether he will come back stronger and fitter than before, consequently the 19-year old should have even more to offer Arteta’s side in the 2020/21 season. Here’s some attributes which I feel we can expect from him when he’s fit:
Work rate –
One of the reasons why Gabby is so noticeable when on the pitch is because of his persistent pressing, giving opposition defender very little time on the ball, making him a nightmare to play against. His work rate on and off the ball is admirable, as his engine allows him to play with a high intensity style for the full 90 minutes, hence why he is able to contribute at both ends of the pitch. This is a quality that perfectly fits with Arteta’s philosophy. As we have seen in the past with talented young players, sometimes they do not have the work rate or desire to match their ability and therefore are labelled as “luxury” players, resulting in them not fulfilling their potential as managers in modern football are unwilling to have someone who won’t do the dirty side of the game as well. Luckily, this doesn’t appear to be a problem for Martinelli if his performances this season are anything to go by, as he seemingly relishes the challenge of going toe-to-toe with his marker at both ends of the pitch.
Eye for goal –
Probably the most distinguished part of his game is his ability to find the back of the net, as the Brazilian notched 10 goals in all competitions, making him the first teenager to hit double figures in one season for Arsenal since Nicolas Anelka. Taking into account the stark change in quality between the defenders in the third tier of Brazilian football, to the defenders in the Premier League, it makes his effortless adaptation to scoring on a regular basis in English football even more remarkable. As we have seen on many occasions, Martinelli’s finishing is instinctive with a lot of it owed to his natural prowess in and around the box, meaning he is able to keep a level head when in front of goal to increase his chances of scoring. Next season, I expect to see him hit double figures again in all competitions, whether he is playing through the middle or out wide it doesn’t seem to make much of a difference due to his knack of being in the right place at the right time.
Another asset which Martinelli has in abundance is his versatility, as the youngster can play anywhere across the front three with almost equal effect. Throughout this season, it was clear to see that he was at his most dangerous when playing centrally, scoring 7 times and assisting 1 in the 8 games he played there, however due to competition for places it meant he was often pushed out wide. Although his stats don’t suggest that he is as effective in this position, it allows him to showcase different parts of his game, such as his pace, dribbling and creativity. In the long run, I believe it will benefit him playing on the wing, due to it giving him the opportunity to hone a more rounded skill set for when he eventually makes the transition to striker. Arteta will certainly be pleased to have another player capable of playing in multiple positions, as it will help him adapt and implement his game plan depending on the opponent, which is something our new head coach already excels in.
Any feedback would be much appreciated and let me know in the comments how big of an impact you think Martinelli will have next season!
I’m a 20 year-old Arsenal fanatic and aspiring Sports Journalist, who will be studying how to write about the Beautiful Game at Solent University from September in an attempt to make my dream into a reality.
Since the age of 8 I have played academy football, but unfortunately it didn’t quite work out – therefore I decided to pursue the next best career for me.
I am aiming to write honest and interesting articles about the club I love, and to share my opinion (one from the younger generation of Arsenal supporters) with as many other fans as possible!