Mikel Arteta believes that Gabriel Martinelli could thrive as a striker at Arsenal, according to reports. The 19-year-old made his long-awaited return from injury in December after missing the first half of the season, but has only played five Premier League matches without contributing a single goal or assist.
Martinelli is widely regarded as one of the club’s most talented young players after thoroughly impressing upon receiving his first-team breakthrough last season.
He scored ten goals in 26 appearances in all competitions, a tally which included an impressive strike against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge that was later voted Arsenal’s goal of the season.
However, he has struggled to hold down a regular spot in the side as of late, with the likes of Willian and Nicolas Pepe having been preferred by Arteta out wide.
Both players are enjoying spells of strong form and are unlikely to be replaced for the time being with the Gunners currently on a five-match unbeaten run.
Although Martinelli has rarely played this season, he could be set for a return to the limelight in a new role in the near future.
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Arteta is convinced that the Brazilian teenager has the potential to succeed as a centre forward, according to football.london.
The report also claims that Martinelli has recently been taking part in non-compulsory individual training sessions in order to improve his shooting.
He often featured as a striker under former boss Unai Emery and faces a battle to regain his spot on the wing, with the emerging talents of Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe currently ahead of him in the pecking order.
The former Ituano man possesses pace in abundance as well as the ability to be in the right place at the right time, two crucial traits needed to score goals from a central position.
Arteta has admitted that Martinelli has been unhappy with his lack of opportunities this season, but stressed that he will eventually return to the side with the Spanish boss eager to avoid putting too much pressure on the shoulders of his young players.
“If anything it’s my fault,” Arteta told reporters ahead of Thursday’s Europa League match against Olympiakos. “He’s done everything perfectly, he trains incredibly well every day, and his attitude couldn’t be better.
“He’s really disappointed that he’s not playing more obviously, and I have spoken to him, but he needs to be a little bit patient. He had some minutes, he had some games as well, and it’s true that the competition for the front places is very tough.
“He needs to be patient, and he will get his chance.”
Martinelli has played 34 times for Arsenal since joining the club in the summer of 2019, scoring ten goals and providing six assists in the process.
He was signed from Ituano in his native Brazil for a fee in the region of £6million, penning an initial long-term deal with the Gunners.
His contract was promptly extended in July last year, keeping him in north London until the end of the 2023/24 campaign with the option of a further season.
The versatile forward was nominated for the prestigious Golden Boy award in June alongside team-mates Saka, William Saliba and Trae Coyle, but was beaten to the prize by Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland.