Turned down by Manchester United after FOUR trials, labelled as a ‘talent of the century’ by Jurgen Klopp, modelling himself on Cristiano Ronaldo and now tearing through Chelsea… how Gabriel Martinelli became Arsenal’s diamond
When Gabriel Martinelli sprinted past the outstretched N’Golo Kante on the halfway line at Stamford Bridge, there was only one real outcome.
So much has Martinelli shone at the Emirates during his breakthrough season, it seemed just a matter of time until the Brazilian starlet would emphatically slot home past Kepa Arrizabalaga to level the scoring against London rivals Chelsea.
And that’s exactly what the 18-year-old did, showing composure, maturity and above all ruthlessness well beyond his age to inspire 10-man Arsenal to an impressive 2-2 draw on Tuesday night in the Premier League.
Gabriel Martinelli stole the show as Arsenal earned a hard-fought 2-2 draw against Chelsea
Martinelli celebrates his fantastic solo goal in front of the jubilant away end on Tuesday night
*All competitions – 2019-20*
Ever since Arsenal fans caught a glimpse of Martinelli on his first competitive start against Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup, they knew they had a real gem on their hands.
Since scoring a brace against Forest, he certainly hasn’t looked back, netting an incredible 10 times in 21 appearances for the north London outfit in what has been the club’s toughest season in modern history.
Arsenal’s £6million signing of the 18-year-old appears to be a very shrewd bit of business – and kudos must go to the club’s technical director Edu, who used his Brazilian connections to snap up the teenager before he hit the world stage.
And what has made his emergence even sweeter was the fact that Manchester United decided to turn down the Brazilian after training with the club four times between 2015 and 2017.
There were high hopes for the teenager when he signed but no one at Arsenal or in football thought that he would go on to play such a key role for the Gunners already.
Following his £6m arrival, Martinelli explained all about his ethos: ‘I am a player who gives his all at all times, I play as a team and am always looking to win games and win trophies.
Martinelli leaves N’Golo Kante stranded on the floor during his incredible 70-yard run
The Brazilian teenager sends Kepa Arrizabalaga the wrong way to level the scoring at 1-1
The £6million signing has already established himself as a fan favourite at the Emirates
‘I model my game on Cristiano Ronaldo, he is a player who works hard, pushing himself to the next level. Always in the run for titles and individual trophies.’
And he has certainly encapsulated his philosophy on the football pitch – winning the heart of every Arsenal supporter for his never-say-die attitude when the going gets tough.
In what has been an extremely turbulent season for the club, players like Martinelli should be savoured – stars that are willing to leave everything out on the pitch in order for the greater good.
And this is exactly what he did in West London on Tuesday night, with Mikel Arteta revealing he was about to substitute him just moments before his special leveller as Arsenal played with a man down for more than an hour.
‘I wanted to take him off because he looked knackered… and the next minute he’s sprinting 60 yards again!’, Arsenal’s new manager revealed.
But while we can continue to sing the praises of his exceptional work-rate, it is his endless talent which truly excites Arsenal supporters the most.
His incredible 70-yard lung-busting run to haul Arsenal level against one of their biggest rivals went to highlight just how special a player Arteta has on his hands.
When he signed for Arsenal, Martinelli revealed he models himself on Cristiano Ronaldo
After sprinting past Emerson Palmieri to latch onto Shkodran Mustafi’s headed clearance from a Chelsea corner, Martinelli only had one thing on his mind.
Kante was left stranded on the floor as Martinelli went on a Thierry Henry-esque run, leaving those Chelsea defenders attempting to catch up with him firmly in their wake.
The Brazilian sensation somehow stole even more of a march on those desperately seeking to make a last-ditch challenge before setting his sights on Arrizabalaga. And the rest was history as Martinelli sent the Chelsea goalkeeper the wrong way.
He has proven he can do it against the very best on a regular basis, scoring a brace at Anfield in the Carabao Cup following an enthralling 5-5 draw, which Liverpool went on to win on penalties.
And speaking after that game, Jurgen Klopp – who has built a juggernaut at Liverpool over the last couple of seasons – hailed Martinelli: ‘He’s a talent of the century, he’s an incredible striker.’ Special praise from arguably the best manager in world football.
Martinelli seems to have that aura about him in front of goal – when given an opportunity to find the net, you would back him to do just that.
Talents like this don’t come around often, so Arsenal have to do everything in their power to keep the teenage sensation firmly away from the clutches of Europe’s powerhouses.
‘That young man, he has the club in the palm of his hands,’ Arsenal Invincible Martin Keown said following Tuesday night’s final whistle.
He scored twice at Liverpool in the Carabao Cup, proving he can do it on the biggest stage
Jurgen Klopp reserved special praise for the 18-year-old striker: ‘He’s a talent of the century’
‘He can take it wherever he wants. He was the youngest player on the pitch out there for Arsenal and he showed the experienced players how it was done.
‘I was here in ’99 when Kanu scored three goals and that looked dead and buried tonight when they were 1-0 down.
‘He really is absolutely outstanding. He was certain he was going to put it away (his goal).
‘His instinct for goal, his movement off the ball, show me another 18-year-old in Europe doing this? Manchester United had him on trial and didn’t take him… that raises questions.’
While we can’t get too carried away about what the future holds in store, we should cherish special talents like this.
If he can keep his feet on the ground and continues to develop in the way he has done since joining from Brazilian side Ituano, then he could just become a legend in North London.
He has been the shining light this season, quickly becoming the jewel in Arsenal’s crown.
The sky is the limit for Martinelli following his exceptional emergence in North London