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What Gabriel Martinelli injury means to Bukayo Saka

Arsenal has all of a sudden been stricken with the worst injury bug in ages, and it’s claimed Gabriel Martinelli. Here’s what that means to Bukayo Saka.

I have spent every single day since the season restarted wondering where Gabriel Martinelli was. I was actually halfway through writing an article about why Arsenal should finally pull the trigger and bench Aubameyang for Martinelli when I was hit with the news that Martinelli had gotten hurt in training and was going to be out “months.”

Just like that, another blow that has already claimed Bernd Leno and Pablo Mari, not to mention Granit Xhaka, who’s on his way towards recovery but still missing.

It’s been a mess, but the Martinelli injury is arguably the worst because we didn’t even get to see him since the restart, not to mention he was widely regarded as one of the most talented young players in the world of football. Even moreso than Bukayo Saka.

So what, if anything, does this Martinelli injury mean to Bukayo Saka? Well, more than nothing, that’s for sure.

If nothing else, it has only reemphasized how badly the Gunners need to lock Saka down to a new deal. Perhaps the only thing making the potential of losing Saka bearable (though it really wasn’t bearable at all), was the presence of Martinelli. They are both Premier League ready, goal-making machines, but choosing one or the other shouldn’t be necessary at all. We should be able to keep them both, and Martinelli’s injury will bring more attention to that.

It also means that Saka will have more freedom to play more frequently. He’s been taking full advantage of that since the restart, impressing yet again across a wide swatch of positions, but in the end, without Martinelli to compete with for spots, it’s allowed him to establish a foothold in the starting XI.

Simply put, these are two elite youngsters. We don’t have anyone else at their level right now, even if players like Willock and Nelson and Nketiah are flirting with getting there. And that being the case, being reduced to one of two elite options—and this is going to make me sound spoiled—is a major pain in the arse.

Next: 5 Things Learned Against Southampton

In the short-term, this may benefit Saka individually, but overall, it doesn’t. Their competition was brilliant for each other and brilliant for the team. But it also means that Saka must sign a new deal soon.

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