Gabriel Martinelli arrived to the Emirates last summer from Brazilian side Ituano, and since then, the 18-year-old has impressed whenever given the chance with his pace, tricky feet and the general threat he poses for the opposition in the final third. He’s racked up a total of 14 goal involvements – 10 goals and four assists, in 25 appearances across all competitions. At around £6 million, it’s fair to say he was a very smart acquisition.
However, in an interview with FourFourTwo, the youngster himself has revealed that he was very close to joining Manchester United instead.
Martinelli had four separate trial spells with the Red Devils, during which he met with the likes of Paul Pogba, Patrice Evra and Marouane Fellaini. He revealed that there was a kind of partnership between the two clubs (Man United and Ituano) which made these trials possible. He went to Manchester once every year for four years and trained with boys his age, but in the end, the 20-time English champions did not make a move to bring him in. He went back to Brazil and continued playing for Ituano until Arsenal came calling.
It is now quite obvious that United made a horrible mistake as they passed on Martinelli. Their hesitation and inability to recognize top talent played neatly into the hands of Arsenal on this occasion, but it seems they weren’t the only big club in Europe to miss the potential of this particular player.
In November 2018, Martinelli went to Barcelona and trained with the famous La Masia for two weeks. Due to an international break going on at the time, he wasn’t as lucky as at United and never got to meet any of their first-team players.
“I could not see Messi”, he said.
The youngster was impressed by the facilities at these clubs, and now he works in similar conditions – at Arsenal.