Will Martinelli Leave?

Give this man a chance

It has been bugging me for some time that Gabriel Martinelli seems to have fallen out of favour with Mikel Arteta.

The young Brazilian burst onto the scene towards the end of Unai Emery’s tenure at the helm of the good ship Arsenal and made a huge impression.

Bukayo Saka was emerging into the limelight around the same time and I remember thinking “these are both great prospects, but it’s Martinelli who looks destined to be a superstar.”

In the 2019-2020 season he made 15 starts in all competitions, plus 10 more appearances as a substitute. In those games he scored 10 goals and had four assists – a spectacular return for a then 18-year-old (contrast it with his compatriot Willian who has had the exact same number of starts and sub appearances so far this year as Martinelli did last season and has managed zero goals and four assists).

After that blistering start to his career, comparisons were being drawn between Martinelli and a young Cristiano Ronaldo. The lad has speed, determination, skill, intelligence, plays with both feet and can head. What’s not to like?

However, since Uncle Unai got the chop and Mikel Arteta arrived, Martinelli’s chances have been few and far between. So far this season he has made only five starts and three substitute appearances.

Admittedly the situation has been complicated by his injury record, but it is mystifying to me that in games where we are chasing a goal and where Martinelli is on the bench he almost never gets a look in.

Does Arteta just not fancy him? A year ago El Patron gave some telling quotes about the youngster in one of his press conferences:

“He needs to digest a lot of things,” said Arteta. “The better you do, the more you have to start to digest what people think about you. He has to think ‘Now, the opponents know me better, the spaces are smaller, I am going to have more attention. I still want to do what I was doing three weeks ago or four weeks ago, but now it’s not happening’. As a young player, you need to go through that. The mental side of it is a process.”

At the time some saw that as a bit of a warning to Martinelli that he needed to improve in a way that Arteta was demanding. Others interpreted it as a sign that the boss had reservations about him generally.

Whatever that improvement was that Arteta was demanding, it does not seem as if El Patron is convinced it has happened yet, because Martinelli is just not getting the game time that we fans would like to see.

Perhaps the player’s injury record goes some way to explaining the paucity with which he is used (because we are being careful with him), but I am beginning to worry that Martinelli will soon be thinking the Portuguese equivalent of “sod this for a game of soldiers” * and will start seeking a move.

He signed a long term contract extension last July, reportedly securing his services until 2024 with an option to extend to 2025. But we all know that if a player is really unhappy – if, for example, he is not getting the chances he feels he deserves – then it’s not all that hard to start agitating for a move through agents, media contacts and so on.

I really, really hope that doesn’t happen.

I’m not a coach or any kind of football expert, I’m just a bloke who has been watching the game intently for more than 50 years, but to my eyes Martinelli is an absolute gem. If he left N5 I have no doubt he would emerge somewhere else as a world class superstar and we would be left with an awful lot of egg on our face.

If we can start playing him and he starts to gel with Saka, Smith Rowe, Tierney and others then we may have the basis of the next great Arsenal team on our hands.

Come on Mikel: sort it out.


*Isso é injusto para um jogo de soldados (according to Google translate: apologies to Portuguese speaking readers if it sounds like nonsense).


19 Responses to Will Martinelli Leave?

  1. gunnerpete says:

    Totally agree, and as a gunner of 79 years I have seen coaches make so many stupid mistakes, even some of our top managers too. Many years ago we had a player called Geoff Strong and our manager played him out of position for 4 years and then dropped him. Liverpool came in, got him for a song and he became one of the leagues top players for years, even Madrid wanted him. I have noticed that with Arteta that if your face dont fit it seems that your skills are irrelavent, same as Emery and a bit with Arsene.If you look at Peps teams, everyone is given a long chance and they flourish. Martinelli is a top talent and should now be getting 30 minutes in every game to build up understandings with mates and speed, but at AFC just wait for the next big mistake its on its way!

  2. RA says:

    Morning Rocky,

    Same, same for Balogun??

    Dane-se isso para um jogo de soldados — indeed!!

  3. Victor says:

    He hasn’t fallen out of favour. He is being carefully managed after an operation and niggling injuries since his return.

  4. RockyLives says:

    I hope you’re right. That was my feeling initially but gradually – as he is deemed fit to be on the bench but seldom gets called on – I have begun having my doubts.

    I haven’t seen enough of Balogun (unlike you) to quite know where to place him in terms of potential. I know that many at the club seem to think very highly of him.

    Perhaps the most recent example of a good ‘un whom we let slip through our fingers is Serge Gnabry.

  5. RA says:


    Serge was a good example of letting a young player slip thru our fingers, and another who suffered his share of injuries.

    There have been others who were ‘let go’ and disappeared without too much comment.

    Another example I mentioned a couple of days ago, Yunus Musah- a young guy (now 20) born in New York who played for our U18s, and was doing well, but the changeover from Wenger-Uncle Unai-Action Man meant he did not get many games, and he disappeared and popped up playing for Valencia, and is doing well there.

    His current value is put at circa £10m, and Valencia have given him a contract up until 2026 — if they think he is that good, why did we let him go for nowt, I wonder.

  6. max says:

    Definetly something is up…

  7. Tommy says:

    Arteta said in an interview how his fitness had returned but his form hadn’t, so they were giving him time to adapt. I think in a few weeks he will be in the starting line up to allow Saka to rest No point rushing him.

  8. foreverinourshadows says:

    Trouble is in my opinion, Arteta wants more defensive than attacking and creativity which has been our DNA for a while, the passing back at every opportunity is frustrating and counter productive, we have an excellent crop of players but I feel Arteta will not get the best out of them due to his negativity in how we play. I may be proved wrong and I hope I am, but looking at the way Arteta wants the team to play is one step forward two steps back

  9. RC78 says:

    Martinelli will stay. He is so highly rated by Edu and Arteta. He is pbbly just being “reminded” that it is hard to get in the first team and that he has to show a high level of form, efforts and commitment during training. I don’t think he will leave.

    From our current squad, the players that

    A) will leave for sure:
    – Mavro, Kola, Douzi, Torreira

    B) Likely to leave:
    – Chambers, Medley, Willock, Nketiah, Balogun

    C) Could leave:
    – Runaarsson, AMN, Bellerin, Saliba, El Neny, Nelsson, Ceba, Odegaard, Pepe, Laca

    This summer is basically going to define the next 2-3 years and ultimately the Edu-Arteta’s era.

    I hope we keep Balogun

  10. Kældermanden says:

    In my mind there is no way in hell Martinelli will leave. I am quite confident both Arteta and Edu see the immense potential in him, but I also think he has to be managed carefully. I am both worried that too many injuries will ruin him physically, but I could also be a bit worried about his mental strength if he gets another serious injury. In the few games he got after coming back I remember him being on the receiving end of a few pretty hard tackles, some of which left him in tears.

    Also the last comment I read from Martinelli was about him being quite content at Arsenal and happy about being able to learn from Auba.

    I just think he is being protected and carefully managed at this point, but I still would love to see him play again soon. Do remember that after his long injury layoff he got another small injury during warmups and until that second injury he was being used.

    It could also just be down to tactics or team balance. Martinelli might be a great talent, but he’s young and not the most tactically astute for instance, and right now it’s more important to secure our places in EL/CL than giving Martinelli a few games.

    Anyways I don’t see the worry. Martinelli is on a contract until 2024 with a 1-year option to extend. He seems to be happy at Arsenal from what I have read, Arteta has praised his attitude in public and everybody seems to love him. I am absolutely convinced that he will get his chance.

  11. RockyLives says:

    Thanks for a considered comment.

    The point you make about him starting to be played again by Arteta until his warm-up injury is a good one.

  12. allezkev says:

    Great comment Kaeldermanden, I agree I think that the club are just being very careful with him and protecting his long term future, I’ve got no doubt that Gabriel will get his chance and once he’s got his confidence back that he’ll be sensational…

  13. LBG says:

    Thanks Rocky
    If Mikel wastes Smith-Rowe in a wide position and loses Martinelli, I for one will be forced to question his right to continue as Manager.
    He already needs to keep Balogun and Azeez and clear out more deadwood. Summer will be crunch time for our Spanish boss for me.

  14. fred1266 says:

    I already question him when he brought on willian over the likes of lacazette and pepe

  15. RC78 says:

    @Sue – City is just such a special team again this year. Fernandinho is so amazing at breaking plays and De Bruyne is a magician with the ball. Ruben Dias is having a Van Dijk effect…Seems the league cannot escape City now.

  16. Sue says:

    Hi RC.. Spot on 👍 What a peach of a cross from KDB for their first goal!
    They’re all chipping in with goals this season and will save us from a Manc/Scouse title and fingers crossed a Spud league cup win!! 🙂 Happy days!

    Just the 4 for PSG today?! 👍 Kolasinac scored earlier!!

  17. RC78 says:

    PSG is going to really struggle to win the League or a Cup this year. We are so inconsistent and I think that Pochetinno will continue on his losing streak at PSG this season but next season, we will be better…It just beats me that we let Tuchel, Silva and Cavani go…

  18. LBG says:

    As RC predicts Mavrapanos will leave in the Summer, watch out for the development of Mark McGuinness currently pulling up trees as centre back on loan at Ipswich.

  19. RockyLives says:

    New Post

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