Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta said that he has been surprised by the quality of Gabriel Martinelli- even though he had been told to expect something special. The Gunners boss was speaking in his pre-Bournemouth press conference on Friday and admitted that the 18-year old has surpassed his high expectations.
“I heard a lot of things about Gabi before I joined and the moment I saw him in training, they were confirmed,” Arteta said.
“I think the way he competes and how brave he is in every single decision he makes is very unusual for an 18-year old. He competed with one of the best defenders in the league in Azpiliecueta and he got at him every time he got a chance.
“His fighting spirit is incredible and he is a goal threat every time.”
The Spaniard revealed that Martinelli’s attitude and fighting spirit were highlighted as attributes upon taking the role and Arteta has not been disappointed in that respect.
“I was told about his fighting spirit, how he goes for every ball, that he has great quality and every time he is in front of goal he is a threat.
“I was told ‘you will be surprised about how prepared he is to fight against every player in the squad.’ I thought, ‘yeah ok, he is 18’, but when you see him in big games and how he goes about everything, it is surprising.”
Ten-man Arsenal level thanks to an ❄️cool finish from Gabriel Martinelli!
The Brazilian runs the length of the field and slots home his 10th goal of the season 🔥🔥🔥
Watch out for the Kylian Mbappe celebration 👀 pic.twitter.com/WaTjb4Qaet
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) January 21, 2020
However, the manager is keen to keep the player on an even keel with Martinelli fever gripping the Premier League. Former defender Martin Keown said on Friday that the Brazilian ‘holds the future of the club in his hands.’ Arteta downplayed such talk.
“I would like to talk about potential more than what it is at the moment, because for him there is still a long way to do that every three days against big teams and with the stature of this club, it is not fair on him [to say he has the club’s future in his hands].
“I want him to train with his head down every day…it’s not about one or two days.”
Arteta said that Martinelli is giving him a good headache as he contemplates how to fit Aubameyang, Lacazette, Pepe and Martinelli into his attack and, crucially, who might drop out.
“It is my job to get the best players on the pitch and to decide whether to play with two, or three or four of them up top. I want the players to make it hard for me and the thing I asked when Auba was suspended was for players to step up and they did.”
One thing Arteta will not involve himself in is Martinelli’s choice of national side. The player carries dual Brazilian and Italian nationality, but the Arsenal Head Coach insists he has no business getting involved in that decision.
“I wouldn’t like to have that conversation with him unless he comes to me, because I don’t want to affect his feelings.
“It’s his choice and he knows better than me and his family and the people around him will be better than me to help him with that decision.”