Mikel Arteta doesn’t like Gabriel Martinelli, says Arsenal legend

Paul Macdonald
Mikel Arteta doesn’t like Gabriel Martinelli, says Arsenal legend

Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown has cast doubt over Gabriel Martinelli’s long-term future at the club by claiming Gunners boss Mikel Arteta “doesn’t like him”.

The Brazilian was left out of the starting eleven for the first leg of Arsenal’s Europa League semi-final tie with Villarreal, with Arteta choosing to play with no strikers.

Read more: Pepe, Jeffers and the 10 worst Arsenal signings of all time

Unai Emery, Arsenal boss between 2018 and 2019, saw his side win 2-1 at the Estadio de la Ceramica. The Spaniards hold the advantage heading to the Emirates Stadium clash next week.

Keown, though, was left dumbfounded by Arteta’s team selection, specifically when it came to Martinelli.

“The manager doesn’t like him, it’s as simple as that,” Keown told BT Sport. “I don’t know, I’m not there everyday at the training ground.

“I think it’s very interesting that [Martin] Odegaard went internationally and said that in training he’s the best young player he’s ever seen – he (Odegaard) is at Real Madrid!

“So, now it’s time to let him fly – let’s look at the positives, let’s get him into the team, let’s support that.

“When he came on, I thought he did a great job, not only was he making runs down the middle, he was coming back, it was like Duracell batteries he had. Keep him in the team, play him.”

What does the future hold for Martinelli?

Martinelli has been highly rated at Arsenal since Emery signed him from Ituano in 2019.

But the 19-year-old hasn’t yet been able to break into the first team on a regular basis by usurping either Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang or Alexandre Lacazette, while he has also suffered from injury issues.

Despite the pair of them struggling for fitness – Lacazette wasn’t even named in the squad after suffering an injury in the draw with Fulham last weekend – Martinelli wasn’t given a chance against Villarreal.

Fans will want to see that change soon, or speculation over his future could begin to grow.