Gabriel Martinelli’s latest training videos just might have moved him a step closer to emulating former Real Madrid and Brazil striker Ronaldo.
The 19-year-old burst on the scene last season following his £6m move from Ituano in the 2019 summer transfer window, netting 10 goals across all competitions – including goals away at Liverpool and Chelsea.
However, Martinelli’s debut campaign in English football ended prematurely because of a knee injury that required surgery and has been used sparingly by Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta so far this term.
Having been left out of the matchday squad for last weekend’s north London derby win over Tottenham Hotspur, it’s now seven Premier League games in a row without an appearance for the Brazilian.
As a result, he has been working hard in training to prove himself to Arteta, whilst also dropping a hint over a possible positional change.
On Tuesday afternoon – ahead of the Europa League last-16 second-leg tie against Olympiacos – Martinelli posted a number of videos on social media from an individual session at London Colney.
And he was working on his striking prowess.
The biggest takeaway from the clip was that Martinelli was operating as a centre-forward instead of a left-winger which means Arteta’s long-term plan for the teenager may already be underway.
After what Martinelli did in training, a permanent positional change could see Arteta discover Arsenal’s own Ronaldo.
Former Gunners striker Kevin Campbell made the comparison between the two Brazilians earlier in the season, stating that Martinelli reminds him of the former Real Madrid and Barcelona superstar.
“I think Martinelli is the one, I really do,” Campbell told Football Insider. “Martinelli was sensational when he came in last season.
“He is a real handful – strong, direct and reminds me of the Brazilian Ronaldo.
“The way that he picks up the ball and runs at goal is phenomenal.
“I am not saying that he is Ronaldo but he reminds me of him, especially with that goal he scored at Chelsea.
“Big future but I do not want to put too much pressure on him because he suffered that injury and he needs time to come back and get his feet under the table again, get comfortable and play games.
Arsenal predicted lineup for Olympiacos
Goalkeeper & Defenders
Bernd Leno (GK) – You sense rotating in goal would just send out the wrong sort of message on Thursday. It’d indicate that Arsenal expect an easy ride against Olympiacos, which they really shouldn’t. Avoiding defeat is still important to keep the very apparent momentum in this Arsenal squad going so Leno should keep his place.
Hector Bellerin (RB) – After his rest against Sp*rs, Hector Bellerin will in all likelihood return to Mikel Arteta’s starting lineup. He appears to be the Spaniard’s favoured option in Europe and he was deservedly commended for a strong outing in Athens last week. He’ll reclaim his spot at right-back.
Rob Holding (CB) – Centre-back is an area where Arsenal need to rotate. Both David Luiz and Gabriel, more so the former, have played a lot of football lately and should be given a rest on Thursday evening. Rob Holding is another great option at right centre-back so he should replace Luiz.
Pablo Marì (CB) – Next to Holding, Pablo Marì should start. Marì and Holding formed something of a formidable partnership over the winter period with the pair complimenting each other very nicely. They’ll provide more than adequate security against Olympiacos.
Çedric Soares (LB) – Left-back is another area of the pitch where one senses the usual starter is due a rest. Kieran Tierney has been superb of late but it’s also been pretty non-stop for him. Çedric should get a consecutive start, but instead at left-back rather than right-back. He had a decent run of games on the left covering for an injured Tierney a few weeks ago so he’ll have no problem slotting into that role.
‘There are no exceptions’ – Aubameyang issue ‘resolved’ but forward must earn place back in Arsenal team, says Arteta
Mikel Arteta says the internal issue involving Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been “resolved” but has warned that the forward must earn his place back in the Arsenal team.
Aubameyang was left on the bench for Sunday’s north London derby clash with Tottenham after breaching pre-match protocols, with the Gunners subsequently earning an impressive 2-1 victory in his absence.
The Gunners boss has revealed that the striker won’t face any further punishment ahead of the Europa League meeting with Olympiacos, but stopped short of confirming whether he will play a part in the second leg tie.
What has been said?
Asked if he has closed the matter with Aubemayang behind the scenes, Arteta told his press conference: “Yes. We talked, everything has been resolved in a really positive way. So we move forward.”
Pressed on whether the Gabon international will come straight back into his team, the Spaniard responded: “No, everybody has to obviously perform at the highest level to earn his place in the team and there is no exceptions there.We will try to put out a really competitive team to try and win the game.”
What did Aubameyang do wrong?
Arsenal haven’t offered a full explanation regarding Aubameyang’s misconduct, but it has been reported that he was dropped after arriving late to Emirates Stadium before the encounter against Spurs.
Pictures circulated on social media of the 31-year-old’s car being stuck in traffic in Muswell Hill a few hours before kick-off, with Arteta confirming that he had originally planned to start the frontman in a pre-match interview.
“He was going to start the game. We had a disciplinary issue, we have drawn the line and we move on. He’s on the bench,” he said. “We keep that internally. We have a process we have to respect for every game and that’s it.”
The bigger picture
Arsenal beat Olympiacos 3-1 in Greece without Aubameyang last week, and should finish the job at Emirates Stadium even if Arteta decides to leave him out again on Thursday night.
However, his presence could be vital to the Gunners chances of achieving the remaining goals for the 2020-21 campaign, with Champions League qualification still up for grabs via two different routes.
Arsenal are ten points behind fourth-place Chelsea in the Premier League having played a game less, with a crucial trip to West Ham on Sunday.
If they fall short domestically, Arteta’s side will have to win the Europa League to qualify for the elite continental competition, and Aubameyang’s goals could make a huge difference as the Gabonese star currently has 14 to his name from 29 outings in all competitions.