Arsenal duo Gabriel Martinelli and Eddie Nketiah have been praised by England legend Michael Owen, who is hopeful that at least one of them can become a “20-plus goals a season” player under Mikel Arteta.
Martinelli, 18, has enjoyed a superb debut season so far for Arsenal since his move from Ituano last summer for a reported £6million, according to The Telegraph, and has claimed 10 goals and four assists from 26 appearances in all competitions.
20-year-old Nketiah, meanwhile, has come through the Arsenal academy ranks and has made seven appearances for the Gunners, scoring three times, after being recalled from his loan spell at Championship high-flyers Leeds United in January.
The Gunners are currently a team in transition and the likelihood is that the summer will bring about numerous changes in playing personnel, but Owen thinks several young players have done superbly, particularly the attacking duo.
“They’re bringing a few young players through, Saka, Nketiah, Martinelli scoring goals as well,” Owen told Premier League Productions, as quoted by the Daily Express.
“You never know, one of those two lads up front could turn into proper players and be like Aubameyang, scoring 20-plus goals a season and they’re worth their weight in gold.
“If you can unearth one of those from your academy, it’s a massive bonus. Times are looking good, they’re still miles off it don’t get me wrong, but there are signs for the first time in a long time that Arteta is starting to get a tune out of them.”
After Unai Emery’s disappointing tenure as Arsenal boss, the future is looking a lot brighter under Arteta, and while any wholescale changes will have to wait until the summer when the transfer window opens, one bright aspect this season has been the breakthrough of the likes of Saka, Nketiah and Martinelli.
While it’s certainly a case of not saddling these youngsters with too much pressure and expectations, it’s clear that they have what it takes to succeed at the top level, and as they continue to develop off the pitch and get experience on it, the potential to become truly world-class players is there – and Arteta is one of the best coaches to harness it.