Gabriel Martinelli has displayed his outrageous potential during his first season at Arsenal. And head coach Mikel Arteta has the skill and awareness to unlock it to the fullest.
No one really knew what to expect from Gabriel Martinelli when he arrived in the summer transfer window. He had just turned 18, was signed from the fourth tier of Brazilian football, and while there was tentative belief that he might be special, any real predictions for what he would produce were rather futile.
It is significant, then, that Martinelli has not wasted any time in showing just how brilliantly talented he is. His first season at Arsenal has been an utter revelation. From the very first moment he took to the pitch in the preseason, Martinelli has repeatedly exceeded expectations.
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He is now the second-highest goalscorer on the season. He has ten goals in all competitions. Scored a brilliant brace against Standard Liege, dominated Liverpool in the EFL Cup, then ran through the heart of Chelsea to rescue a point for ten-man Arsenal with one of the goals of the season. David Luiz has praised his special talent. Jurgen Klopp described him as one of the brightest talents in world football. Martinelli is special.
But there is still a long way to go. For all of his brilliant performances this season, he is still not a first-team starter for the club. He has struggled for consistency at times, especially through the winter months. No one quite knows what his best position is with his best performances having come through the middle but more opportunity in a wide-left role. However, despite all of these potential pitfalls, if there is a manager to ensure that Martinelli fulfils his talent, Mikel Arteta is it.
And don’t just take my word for it. Martinelli himself has extolled the coaching qualities of Arteta:
“[Arteta] has been brilliant. He pays a lot of attention to moves and keeps pushing me to improve my game; not only in attack but in defence too. The boss is very wise tactically and incredibly helpful. He’s not an angry guy at all but likes showing you exactly what to do on the pitch. [He says] ‘If the ball goes that way, don’t stay here, go there and turn your body that specific way.’ He has a keen eye for detail.”
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Arteta is an extremely detailed, individualised coach. He works on specific tactical elements with specific players. He is demanding, hard-working, and expects a response from his players. But as the improvements that many Arsenal players have made in his short time as head coach, it is quite clear that his testing, focused methods work.
Raheem Sterling, Bernardo Silva and Leroy Sane all credited their improvements to Arteta’s coaching at Manchester City. They are comparable players to Martinelli: small, quick, technically skilful, but needing to maximise their talent with smart decision-making and positioning to up their goal and assist tallies.
Martinelli is a wonderful young footballer. He is one of the brightest talents that Arsenal have ever had. And Arteta is the man to make the most of out of his outrageous potential.