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Gabriel Martinelli injury disastrous for more than this season

Gabriel Martinelli is set to miss ‘months’ with a knee injury. It is disastrous news for Arsenal, and not just that he will miss the rest of this season.

Arsenal have been hit with some rather unfortunate injury luck since the resumption of the Premier League season. From Sokratis and Lucas Torreira being unable to feature from the off to Granit Xhaka being substituted in the first two minutes of Wednesday’s defeat to Manchester City, and that is not to mention season-ending injuries to Pablo Mari and Bernd Leno, Mikel Arteta has had to deal with a whole raft of injury problems.

And now he has another one to swallow. Young Gabriel Martinelli is said to have suffered a serious injury in training on Monday. As first reported by David Ornstein of the Athletic, Martinelli suffered meniscus damage after clashing with another player. He is expected to miss the rest of the season and could be out for months beyond that.

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Arteta was asked about the problem in his press conference on Tuesday. He said:

“Yeah, we had some really bad news again yesterday. In training in the last action he got hit by another player and he’s damaged his knee. The doctor is assessing the extent of the injury, but it’s not looking good at all. We don’t know (how long he’s going to be out for), but it’s looking like months.”

What the true damage is remains to be seen, but Martinelli is certainly not going to play again this season. That is hugely worrying for an Arsenal team that has lacked offensive ingenuity and threat thus far. There was plenty of control against Brighton, but little direct play to break down a well-drilled backline. Martinelli provides precisely that.

However, while his absence for the remainder of this season is frustrating, limiting Arteta’s attacking options, especially from off the bench, this is far more disastrous news beyond this current campaign into the coming years.

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Martinelli will likely miss the start of next season. As we have seen with knee injuries in the past, it is not inconceivable that it will take much longer to truly recover. It could easily be three or four months into the new season that Martinelli is match-fit again. That would be hugely detrimental to his progress.

Moreover, Martinelli is an explosive athlete. He relies on his speed and sharpness to move away from defenders and exploit space off the ball. This is only his first major injury, but it is never ideal when a teenager develops knee problems early in his career. Arsenal do not need reminding of the detrimental impact relentless injuries can have on players’ development.

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Martinelli’s injury, then, is terrible news. Both with regards to the time he will miss this season and what that will mean for Arteta’s attacking options and for what is to come. His development is key, and this is hugely hurtful to it.

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