Gabriel Martinelli sends message to Mikel Arteta and names his Arsenal role model

Gabriel Martinelli is working his way back to full fitness following several injury setbacks
Gabriel Martinelli is working his way back to full fitness following several injury setbacks (Picture: ESPN)

Gabriel Martinelli insists he is free of pain and ready to inject fresh life into Arsenal’s misfiring attack ahead of Sunday’s Premier League match against Leeds United.

The Brazilian teenager burst onto the scene last season, but a serious knee injury has limited the impact he has been able to make under Unai Emery’s successor, Mikel Arteta.

Martinelli ended a nine-month absence when he made his comeback appearance against Manchester City in the Carabao Cup back in December. He subsequently starred in the Boxing Day victory over Chelsea and victory over Brighton, but suffered an ankle injury during the warm-up ahead of the FA Cup third round win over Newcastle.

The 19-year-old’s most recent Premier League start came in last month’s stalemate against Manchester United but Arteta hooked the versatile forward at half-time and was criticised after leaving the youngster on the bench when his side were chasing a goal against Aston Villa last weekend.

Martinelli appreciates starting opportunities are likely to be rare with captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang occupying his preferred position on the left of a three-man attack, but he insists the Gabon international represents the perfect role model and he hopes to follow in his footsteps.

Gabriel Martinelli has praised his role model Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Gabriel Martinelli has praised his role model Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Picture: Getty)

He told ESPN: ‘I’m very timid. It was really crazy! (Going from Brazil 4th tier to Arsenal) But now I’m adapted.

‘I’m feeling very good. I don’t feel any more pain on my knee and this is the most important thing. I’m ready (to play) when Mikel needs me.

‘I’m working very hard (to start) of course Auba plays in my position but I look to him every day, in every training, to learn as much as I can from him, he’s also a great guy off the pitch

‘I want to follow into Aubameyang’s footsteps, he’s a captain, he wears the No14 shirt, that is a symbol for this club and of course, I hope to be very successful at Arsenal.’

Arteta, meanwhile, was asked about Martinelli’s lack of opportunities of late and explained it was difficult for the player to build-up rhythm given the setbacks he has suffered in his rehabilitation from injury.

‘He came back and did really well, but then he picked up another injury,’ said the Arsenal manager. ‘It took him a while to come and now it’s about getting in his rhythm and getting his place in the team like anybody else.

‘Don’t forget that we played him last time against Manchester United and he started ahead of other players, so it’s not like he’s not having the opportunities.

‘We know that he’s got a huge potential and he’s done some really good things since he’s come back. He has a lot of things to develop in his game because of course at his age it’s normal.’

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