When Arsenal signed an 18 year old from the Brazilian fourth division last summer, most of us hoped he could develop into an exciting first team player for us over time.
There weren’t many – even inside the club – who expected him to have the kind of impact he has in such a short space of time. In 26 appearances he has 10 goals and 4 assists, and although he hasn’t featured since the restart, he remains our second highest scorer in all competitions this season.
His reward for that was a new contract, signed yesterday with a healthy pay rise to reflect his contribution, and nobody can argue it wasn’t merited.
Nevertheless, it has come as a bit of a surprise, something acknowledged by Technical Director Edu – a fellow Brazilian who knows exactly how tough it can be to come to England from South America.
Asked if he had been taken aback by the impact of his young compatriot, he told the official website, “Yes, 100 per cent. I am surprised too because I know how difficult it is if you live in Brazil, to come to here and straight away adapt the way he has.
“As I say, the plan with Martinelli was to start with the under-23s, be with the first team in pre-season, then come back to the under-23s.
“But in that pre-season he already showed how important he’s going to be for the team. It’s quite similar, at that point, it’s a quite similar situation to Bukayo.
“When you are talking about behaviour, attitude, mentality, family, so it’s really nice, really nice. I met as well his family, and I saw properly how nice they are, how educated Martinelli has been during that period.”
The former Invincible also had some words of praise for Academy Manager Per Mertesacker, and the work he and his team are doing at that level.
“The academy is doing a proper job, the coaches from the academy are doing a proper job, the performance guys as well because you have to prepare the players to be strong to stay in the first team,” said Edu.
“Then of course, the quality of the guys in the first team. To see and to do the right process with the players because at times if you push too much it’s not good for the players.
“You have to understand the right time to start training, the right time to start to including the players on the bench and the right time to expose the player to play football for the first team.
“The process is a very big piece for everybody, it has to be done properly, we are working really hard to pay attention on that part, to see even more from the players that we get from the academy.”