This article is part of Football FanCast’s Pundit View series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent quotes from journalists, pundits, players and managers…
Jurgen Klopp has said that Gabriel Martinelli is a “talent of the century”.
Arsenal and Liverpool played out a thriller in the League Cup on Wednesday night. The Reds won on penalties, but that was only after a 5-5 draw in normal time.
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Martinelli, who joined the Gunners for £6m in the summer, scored twice, taking his tally for the season to seven goals. During the post-match reaction, the former Borussia Dortmund boss spoke glowingly of the 18-year-old, saying:
“Sepp van den Berg as well, he played an incredible game.
“That’s really difficult to deal with these guys. Martinelli’s pretty much the same age but he’s a talent of the century, he’s an incredible striker, so it’s really difficult.”
Arsenal truly put their money where their mouth is during this summer transfer window.
They spent £137.16m, their second-highest spend in one window, on five permanent arrivals, as well as the loan addition of Dani Ceballos.
So far, those new faces have struggled to hit the expected heights at the Emirates Stadium. In all fairness, William Saliba is on loan at Saint-Etienne, but David Luiz has been part of a defence that has conceded 14 goals in the Premier League, whilst Ceballos and Nicolas Pepe have just four goals and five assists between them despite having made a combined 28 appearances.
Kieran Tierney spent the first part of the season injured and is only just coming into the side.
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Despite that, he is yet to be included in the starting line-up in the Premier League. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is the first-choice striker for Unai Emery, and rightly so, having scored eight goals in his first 12 games of the term.
However, Alexandre Lacazette is ahead of him in the pecking order too.
The 16-time France international has scored 38 goals in 94 appearances for the Gunners but, at 28 years old, his market value – currently at £63m according to Transfermarkt – is probably as high as it is ever going to be.
The Gabon international, though, has just a few years left at the top considering he is already 30, which is why it now makes sense to let Lacazette go and promote Martinelli to be the first back-up option. After all, talks over his future were already had in the summer.
He will still make his appearances in the cup competitions and, when Aubameyang needs a break, he can play in the league too. By the time the former Saint-Etienne forward does hang up his boots or move on, the teenager will be ready to take over.
“Talent of the century” is a huge appraisal of his ability. To truly develop, he needs a clearer path and more playing time. Lacazette’s departure, therefore, would allow both of those things to occur.