One of Arsenal’s South American scouts has revealed some of the details behind the capture of Gabriel Martinelli, the young Brazilian who was having a stand-out debut season for the Gunners before football was stopped due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Johnathan Vidalle told the Arsenal en América podcast about how Francis Cagigao asked for his opinion on the player; how his trials at Man Utd – who turned down the chance to sign him – worked to Arsenal’s advantage; and the impact he’s made at the club since joining.
If you’re a Spanish speaker, you can listen to the episode here – and any attribution for the quotes should be made to the Arsenal en América podcast.
Thanks to Matías for sending us the translation. Gracias!
How Arsenal tracked Martinelli
“We have a scout in Brazil, he told me about Gabriel. Later Francis Cagigao asked for my opinion and I traveled to Brazil to see him. Everton Gushiken liked him, he had some doubts about some characteristics, he didn’t know if he could make it in the Premier League, but they were normal doubts, about his mentality. I traveled to see him. We try to see players live on the pitch and I liked him.
“Obviously he was playing in a fourth tier team, Ituano, but he was competing against Palmeiras in the Paulista championship. I went to see him against Santos and against Ponte Preta. I was surprised by the mentality he has, how competitive he was. Gabriel played as a winger, always played as a winger.
“I was impressed by his ability to repeat efforts and not only in the attacking part of the pitch, he helped with the left back, which is a bit what he has done now at Arsenal, and he finished those sprints with the same speed and lucidity with which he started. Like in the goal against Chelsea, he had a little luck because the defender slipped, but he finished well. That competitiveness and that way of working are important for the Premier League, especially for the wingers, who have to be fast and help on the defensive side”.
“When Cagigao went to Brazil, he finished the job of getting to know the player, the parents, and then Corinthians, Santos and the top european clubs wanted him. We studied his environment, his life, his parents, why he played in the fourth tier, and those things are important.”
“It helped us that he went for two trials at United, it mentally prepared him. He went to Manchester at 14 and at 16, he had already been working and knew his conditions. The objective of any player, in addition to playing in the first division of his team, is to go and play in Europe. Logically he was already studying English and the parents made very good decisions and were well advised”.
His first year at Arsenal
“The Premier League is very difficult, it is difficult to adapt to. We knew that winger is his position, but as false 9 he moves very well. Not only was he up to the level of Arsenal, he scored goals, and for a striker that is essential.
“He has physique, intelligence and has the attitude of a 30 year old man. When Francis went to see him, things were quite advanced. He met up at the hotel after a game and asked him who his idol was. Instead of saying Ronaldo, Ronaldinho or Neymar, he said Cristiano Ronaldo.
“But he said it because he knows he, like CR7 doesn’t have great technique, but he is very competitive, he has a mentality that is difficult to find in a boy in the fourth tier. This boy surprised me, I did not expect such good results in such short time.
“It is not easy to reach a league as competitive as the Premier, and not only play a few games, he earned a place in the starting 11. All of this when Arsenal went through a period in which things were not going well, and yet he was always up to the task.”
Question about Edu’s involvement in that transfer
“Edu at that time was not part of the Arsenal structure. Obviously I knew him, he worked in Corinthians and in the Brazil national team, surely he had him on the radar, but in this case we started with Everton and then Cagigao convinced himself when he saw him live.”
“Francis is very capable and forceful, sometimes one becomes convinced after seeing a player 10 or 15 times. He only needs a weekend, he has a very good eye. He has a high organizational level and great man management, he is very capable.”