Arteta explains ‘risk’ with ‘very unusual’ Arsenal starlet

Date published: Sunday 26th January 2020 9:38

Mikel Arteta has discussed the “risk” that comes with expecting too much of Arsenal forward Gabriel Martinelli.

Martinelli has become one of the shining lights of Arsenal’s entire season after joining last summer from Ituano.

The 18-year-old was not intended to make much of a first-team impact but has already scored ten goals in 21 appearances, including three in 566 Premier League minutes.

Liverpool are said to be monitoring Martinelli’s development in north London and are unlikely to be alone in doing so, with Arsenal reportedly considering trebling his wages to fend off interest.

Arteta is aware he has a potential star on his hands but has warned of the “risk” attached to high expectations.

“I heard a lot of things about Gabi before I joined and the moment I saw (him) in training, it was confirmed the things I was told before.

“I think the way he competes and how brave he is in every decision on that pitch is very unusual for an 18-year-old.

“He competed against one of the best defenders in the league, in (Cesar) Azpilicueta, and he got at him every time he had a chance. His fighting spirit is incredible and then he is a threat for goal every time.”

Asked if Martinelli’s form was so good it would make recalling Aubameyang difficult, the 37-year-old disagreed, but he did admit the young striker currently deserves to remain in the team due to his recent performances.

What Arteta is worried by, however, is supporters and others at the club expecting the Brazil Under-23 international to consistently deliver displays like he did against Chelsea.

“That is the risk and not just him, but all of us and me included and the club and the people around him,” Arsenal’s head coach insisted.

“We have to support him and protect him. We cannot just give him the license to think he can do that every single day and he needs to do that and put himself under that pressure when he can maybe get blocked a little bit.

“It is completely the opposite. He needs to play with that freedom where he has the license to do what he wants to do on the pitch, but with the pressure really that it doesn’t always have to be him to do it.”

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