I still remember the first day Martinelli got linked to us way back in March of last year. We were all scratching our heads wondering why an 18 year old from Brazil's 4th division was being monitored by a club of Arsenal's size. While every player looks amazing in a Youtube compilation, there was something different about Martinelli. The way he moved on and off the ball and his finishing style really caught my eye.
We got a glimpse of what Martinelli was about in pre-season - An absolutely rapid player with a combination of speed, directness and technique. Under Unai Emery, the player never started a Premier league game. He was our cup striker and it was in the Europe league and league cup where he really caught the eye at the start. That brace against Nottingham Forest in his first professional start for the club paved the way for things to come. He endeared himself to the Arsenal faithful, not just because of his goals, but also through his exemplary work ethic. I cannot remember the last time I've seen an Arsenal forward work so hard off the ball with the level of intensity Martinelli does.
This attitude and desire has always been part of his makeup right from a very young age:
In his first interview he gave with Arsenal.com, Martinelli said: "People that know me will tell you that I always give my absolute best, so I guess, in a way, English football is well suited to me because there’s a lot of passion in the game over here. What they (the fans) can expect from me now? Someone who always gives his best, his maximum, and who always plays with his heart. That’s the most important thing you need to know about me."
In modern football, there is no room for being a passenger off the ball. The physical demands of the game have increased. It has gone to the point wherein teams that are athletic in key areas have an advantage over teams with just creativity. Martinelli couples invention with athleticism.
Martinelli is a fantastic example to all young players - Be hungry, work hard and take your chances. What makes him so special is his mentality. Just a few days after breaking up with his girlfriend, he smashes a brace against Standard Liege. This tells me that he is someone who channelizes his emotions in a positive direction.
The Brazilian is levels ahead of most players his age and someone who agrees with this assessment is Jurgen Klopp - who speaking post the 5-5 draw at Anfield in the league cup admitted:
When Freddie Ljungberg gave him his first Premier league start away to West Ham, he comes in clutch and with a superb finish, helps us equalize which gives us momentum to win the game. I've seen many youngsters and sometimes even senior players getting carried away in such situations, celebrating their goal for way too long. Martinelli, however just punches the air towards the fans, carries the ball as fast as he can to the center of the pitch as he recognizes that there is a game to be won. He is a proper team player and winner.
The aspect of Martinelli's game that should not go unnoticed is his positional flexibility. While Unai Emery said he sees him more as a wide forward, his movement inside the penalty area and clinical finishing in front of goal tells me otherwise. The bottom line however, is that he looks adept and is well rounded to be playing both - Left forward and centre forward to great effect at just 18 years of age.
This season, Martinelli has scored an impressive 10 goals and provided 2 assists in just 21 appearances, including a brace at Anfield and that solo goal against Chelsea that will go long in memory.
The player is only going to get better. We are witnessing the start of something truly special. Martinelli has every quality that our teams have lacked in recent times. He will be the symbol of the new Arsenal. In the coming years, he will get even more stronger and fine tune certain intricacies in his game and go up to a different level. When talent meets mentality and hard work, it will always yield results.
By the time he is 24 years of age, I am confident he will be among the best players in the world. I cannot remember the last time I saw an 18 year old at Arsenal who was this good. He has been a shining light in what has been a catastrophic season for Arsenal. I am really looking forward to his development in the coming years. Thank you Francis Cagigao!