The 20-year-old Brazilian has not had things all his own way since his move to the Gunners but may be in line for his best campaign yet
It has been a rollercoaster ride in England so far for Arsenal’s 20-year-old Brazilian forward Gabriel Martinelli.
There have been plenty of highs, with the 2019-20 season seeing the youngster become the first teenager to score ten goals in a campaign for the Gunners since Nicolas Anelka in 1998-99 as he put in some scintillating performances.
But there have also been lows, with a serious knee injury disrupting his 2020-21 season and causing him to fall down Mikel Arteta’s pecking order even when he regained full fitness.
With one very good and one not so successful year under his belt, then, all eyes will be turning towards Martinelli to see what the next nine months or so have in store for him.
And there are plenty of reasons to believe that this could be the moment he makes the step up from prodigious talent to regular starter.
One of those causes for optimism is his appearance for Brazil in their gold medal-winning Olympics campaign.
While the majority of Premier League clubs were reluctant to see their big names flying off to Tokyo to risk injury and fatigue just weeks before the start of the new season, for Arsenal Martinelli’s participation may well have worked in their favour.
This is a man who had not played an awful lot of football of late, with the vast majority of his appearances in the latter half of last season coming from off the bench.
Therefore getting that extra fitness work in at the Olympics (albeit he only featured in three games) should lead to him having an advantage over some of his rustier teammates, and could see him hitting the ground running from the off.
That winning experience is also invaluable, and Martinelli clearly soaked up every minute of his country’s success at the Games, posting numerous pictures to social media of the celebrations and of him kissing his gold medal.
It was straight down to business when he returned to London Colney less than 48 hours after Brazil’s final against Spain, however, and Gunners fans were delighted to see him sharing an Instagram story at the club’s training ground with the caption “Back to work”.
Martinelli will be desperate to make up for lost time after his unfortunate injury, and could see this new season as a clean slate and a chance to really start again in an Arsenal shirt.
Meanwhile, the Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang left-wing experiment really appears to have run its course, and the Gabonese talisman will surely revert to playing in his favoured central role going forward.
Martinelli certainly seems more effective cutting in from the flanks, and although Bukayo Saka will rival him for a place, there seems no reason why he could not be lethal doing just that this season – and he should surely be starting above Willian whenever possible.
With both Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette getting on, rotation could be key for Arteta, and Martinelli will surely be afforded more opportunities by his manager this time around.
Against those two sides in particular Martinelli’s pace and directness could be the Gunners’ best chance of getting a result, and a positive impact could set him up nicely for a stellar campaign.
Do not be at all surprised to hear his name on many lips throughout the next few months.