Gabriel Martinelli hasn’t ruled out playing for Italy in the future.
The 18-year-old striker counts Brazil as his homeland – he’d lived there all his life until the move to Arsenal – but holds an Italian passport through his father’s side of the family.
FIFA eligibility rules mean a player is only locked in by a country once he’s made a senior appearance. To date, that’s not happened.
Indeed, Martinelli has made just a single appearance at under-23 level in a 1-0 defeat to Argentina in November.
It sounds as though Italy have been sniffing around with national team coach Roberto Mancini namechecking the youngster in October. He didn’t sound overly optimistic.
Speaking about his options in an interview with DAZN Brazil, he said: “I am Brazilian and my dream, of course, is to play for Brazil.
“But I could also play for Italy and nothing has been decided. I haven’t received a call from Brazil yet.”
Martinelli, who has 8 goals in 19 games this season, was called up to play for the under-23s in this month’s pre-Olympic qualification tournament in Colombia but because the fixtures fall outside the usual international windows, Arsenal have been under no obligation to release the attacker.
Mikel Arteta promptly exercised that right, which, given the three-game suspension picked up by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, was a very sensible decision.