Mikel Arteta reveals what ‘surprised’ him about Arsenal ace Gabriel Martinelli

Mikel Arteta admits he was 'surprised' by Arsenal forward Gabriel Martinelli
Mikel Arteta admits he was ‘surprised’ by Arsenal forward Gabriel Martinelli (Picture: Getty)

Mikel Arteta admits he was ‘surprised’ by the ability of Gabriel Martinelli after returning to Arsenal as manager.

Arteta left his role as Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City assistant to return to the Emirates in December and says he heard rumours about the talent of Brazilian teenage forward Martinelli.

But the Gunners boss says only after seeing the 18-year-old on the training ground and playing against Arsenal’s top Premier League rivals did he fully comprehend his ability.

‘I heard a lot of things about Gabby before I joined and the moment I saw him training it confirmed all the things I was told,’ Arteta said.

‘I was told, “You will see this kid, how he goes for every ball, his fighting spirit and the quality that every time he is in front of goal he’s a threat”.

‘I was told I would be surprised how prepared he is to compete with every player in the squad.

‘I just thought, “Yes, but he’s 18”. But when you see him in big games, how he goes about everything, it’s surprising.

‘The way he competes, how brave he is with every decision he makes on the field is very unusual for an 18-year-old.’

Martinelli made his Arsenal first-team debut last season and has established himself as a key member of Arteta’s squad during the 2019-20 campaign.

The teenager scored his tenth goal of the season on Tuesday night as Arsenal came from behind twice to earn a 2-2 draw at London rivals Chelsea.

‘He competed against one of the best defenders in the league, Azpilicueta, and he got at him every time he had a chance,’ Arteta added.

‘His fighting spirit is incredible and then he is a threat for goals every time. I would like to talk about his potential more than what he is at the moment.

Arteta has been impressed by the Brazilian teenager
Arteta has been impressed by the Brazilian teenager (Picture: Getty)

‘For this club to give him the responsibility to do that every time is not fair on him, we have to bring him down. The risk is expecting too much too soon – but not just for the fans.

‘We cannot give him the licence to think he has to put himself under that pressure. He needs to play with the freedom that he has.’

Arsenal, who are currently just tenth in the Premier League, face Bournemouth in the fourth round of the FA Cup on Monday evening.

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