Having traded in a host of senior stars in favour of an immensely gifted, but inexperienced, crop of young talent, Arsenal are beginning to reap the rewards of their bold transfer policy in recent times.
While Champions League qualification is no sure thing, the Gunners remain firmly in the mix for a top-four finish heading into the final weeks of the Premier League campaign, with only rivals Tottenham Hotspur standing in their way of a return to Europe’s premier competition for the first time since 2017.
A vital part of Mikel Arteta’s emerging and exciting side has been Brazilian forward Gabriel Martinelli, with the 20-year-old belying his years with a string of impactful displays so far this season.
A relative unknown prior to his move to the Emirates, the versatile speedster had been plying his trade for fourth-tier side Ituano in his homeland when he was spotted by club scout Johnathan Vidalle, with the north Londoners eventually stumping up £6m to bring him to England in the summer of 2019.
That fee may have appeared somewhat steep at the time considering the level of football at which the then-teenager had been competing in, although the Sao Paulo-native has quickly made that figure look like an absolute bargain, such has been his impact over the past few seasons.
The youngster made almost the perfect start to life in English football with a brilliant brace on his full debut in a 5-o win over Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup, quickly quashing any possible doubts over whether he could acclimatise to life in a new country.
Since then, Martinelli has had his problems with injury, although has truly come of age in what’s been a fine campaign for Arteta’s men as a whole this season.
The £41k-per-week ace has registered five goals and four assists in 24 league outings so far this season, while he’s also averaged 1.4 successful dribbles and 1.1 key passes per game, showcasing his willingness and ability to make the difference in the final third.
Such dynamism has also seen him labelled “dangerous” by pundit Graeme Souness, while he has also been likened to compatriot Ronaldo – Il Fenomeno – by another legendary figure of the game, Ronaldinho.
The comparisons don’t stop there, however, with Gary Neville once stating that “he’s got a bit of Pires about him.”
That high praise brings with it a great deal of expectation, although the 5 foot 10 marksman is showing no signs of being overawed, while he still has plenty of time to grow and develop even further to truly cement himself in Arteta’s starting XI.
As for the club itself, their capture of the prodigious talent appears more astute with each passing game, while the player’s soaring market value also highlights how they simply hit the jackpot with his acquisition.
The player is currently valued at £34m, a meteoric increase from the fee he was signed for just under three years ago. On recent evidence, that value is only set to skyrocket in the coming years.