Robin van Persie has told BT Sport’s coverage of Arsenal’s 3-2 win over Vitoria Guimaraes that Gabriel Martinelli has the potential to become a “top player” after he scored his fifth goal of the season on Thursday night.
Martinelli, 18, joined Arsenal in the summer from Brazilian side Ituano. You would have been forgiven for thinking that it might take some time to see the attacker in the senior side, but he came on as a substitute in the opening game at Newcastle.
He has been used by Unai Emery in the Europa League and Carabao Cup so far. In his three starts for Arsenal, he has scored five times. He netted twice against Standard Liege, and then Nottingham Forest – and now has another against Vitoria.
Arsenal legend van Persie believes Martinelli – who cost just £6.5million (The Sun) – has all the tools to become a top player, claiming he is showing enormous potential and promise for a player aged just 18.
“He’s young, he’s 18 years old. The moves he makes, the dummies he makes, he’s always looking for space. He looks very good to me, especially at that age. I was playing on the wing at that age. I was a different kind of player,” van Persie said.
“With time, he will get even better. He looks very good to me. What I like is that he can link up play. He can hold the ball. He has a nose for space so he knows where to go. He can score, and if you have all that, he can become a top player.”
TBR’s view – Martinelli needs Premier League exposure at Arsenal
It has finally given Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang some competition. The duo were the out-and-out top two strikers for Arsenal last season, with little way of competition rivalling the duo.
Now, the two star strikers will be looking over their shoulder at the form of Martinelli, who is showing raw talent expected of a player well into their twenties. Martinelli needs Premier League football to further his development.