Understanding the hype for Gabriel Martinelli
Gabriel Martinelli’s return to fitness is nearing ever closer by the day. With every day that passes, the excitement from Arsenal fans awaiting his return grows. But just why are hopes being pinned on a 19-year-old with just 26 senior appearances for Arsenal?
With an outside perspective, it seems foolish to place so much faith in a teenager returning from a long term injury. However, the young Brazilian has captured the imagination of Arsenal fans everywhere. To explain why, I will try to pick the parts of Martinelli’s game which make him just so exciting to watch.
While Martinelli’s favoured position is to the left of the striker, he is more than capable of playing that role himself. His positioning in an attack, heading, and striking ability all have the hallmarks of a natural striker.
In just his first start for the Gunners, Martinelli had already shown that natural promise. A quick darting run between the two Nottingham Forest centre-halves before heading in Calum Chambers’ whipped delivery gave Arsenal fans an early hint of how special this kid might be. He would go on to get his second of the match and showcase his ability further. Picking up the ball in the opposition half, he turned and beat his man before rifling a shot that took a deflection before floating into the top corner.
The performance had fans raving, but it was just the beginning. He’d go on to score 10 goals and register four assists in just 12 starts for Arsenal, including a brace at Anfield and a solo goal at Stamford Bridge. The stoppage of football due to the Coronavirus pandemic marked the end of Martinelli’s season as a knee injury in June ruled him out before he could make another appearance. Despite his limited appearances, Martinelli had demonstrated his immense talent and potential as a forward and had fans very excited.
Martinelli was brought from Brazil as a young talent who can add something immediately to the U23 team. The fact that he is now considered an integral part of Mikel Arteta’s squad and Arsenal’s future is through nothing but the sheer force of his determination.
We saw that determination against Chelsea in January. Arsenal had been on the back-foot, conceding a penalty and a red card in the 26th minute until Martinelli picked up the ball following a corner in the 63rd minute. Then he ran and ran. 60 yards later, and the ball was in Chelsea’s net.
We see that determination in his pressing. He possesses seemingly endless energy, chasing down every defender throughout the time he is on the pitch. When compared to other U21 forwards in Europe, his pressure and regain numbers are greatly ahead of his counterparts.
Martinelli strikes as a player who will stop at nothing to get to the top of the football world and his own game. Not long after joining the club, he spoke of wanting to ‘win the Champions League and become a Gunners legend’. Such high aims and determination to get there only increases the excitement around the young Brazilian.
As Martinelli’s return looming ever closer, the immediate question on many fans’ lips will be: “can he improve us now?”.
Martinelli offers a profile Arsenal are lacking right now – an impact player. In the same way he did in that game against Chelsea and the same way he did against West Ham – to equalise and go on to win Arsenal’s first match in nine. Martinelli is a player with the ability to turn a game on its head. A moment out of nothing which can turn a game in his team’s favour. It remains to be seen how quickly Martinelli will return to his best after injury, but one thing is for sure.
The hype is real.