Arsenal made a number of signings during a very busy summer in north London but arguably the most successful so far has been the most low-profile: Gabriel Martinelli.
The Gunners signed some stellar names, including David Luiz, Dani Ceballos and Kieran Tierney, while they also smashed their club transfer record with the £75m arrival of Nicolas Pepe.
But thus far, with the aforementioned players struggling with form, confidence and injuries respectively, it’s the 18-year-old Brazilian who has made the biggest impression.
Having arrived from Ituano in his homeland for a reported fee of just £6m, he has already netted seven goals in four starts so far.
Three of those strikes have come in the Europa League, with Martinelli following up his brace against Standard Liege by bagging once during Arsenal’s 3-2 defeat of Vitoria in October.
The Gunners once again face the Portuguese outfit on Wednesday and if Martinelli finds the net once more, he’ll become the first Arsenal player to score in each of his first three European games since Marouane Chamakh in 2010 – and only the second overall.
Chamakh may not be the most glamorous of players and his Arsenal career certainly went on a downward spiral from that point, but for Martinelli to equal that feat, and maybe even exceed it when Unai Emery’s men face Eintracht Frankfurt on matchday five, would be a real example of just how impressive his start to life at the Emirates has been.
Even Jurgen Klopp has been singing Martinelli’s praises after watching the youngster put two goals past his Liverpool side during a barnstorming 5-5 draw in the Carabao Cup recently, which the Reds won 5-4 on penalties.
“It was not in this game only. I watch a lot of football, so I saw the Europa League games of Arsenal,” Klopp said.
“He’s 18 years old, right? So our scouting department is all over the world and stuff like this, but I think Edu gets all the credit for that signing.
“He’s really unbelievable. So young, looks so mature already, is a proper threat. He looks like a really decent player.
“But I didn’t want to put any backpack [pressure] on his back with this thing [his earlier remarks] but I just really like good football players and obviously he’s a very good one.”
Recent reports suggest Real Madrid are starting to show considerable interest in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, with claims that the Arsenal hierarchy have made a promise to the striker to “consider” any offer that comes their way next summer.
Despite the fact he is now 30, Arsenal could still command a huge fee for Aubameyang. However, he has been responsible for 40 of Arsenal’s last 117 Premier League goals (34.18%) and his departure would leave a huge, gaping hole in the final third.
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Emery is already under pressure at the Emirates and if he remains in his job until the point where Aubameyang does – in theory – leave, he will need a ready-made replacement to step into his star striker’s shoes at a moment’s notice. It is clear that the Spaniard is not in a position where he can allow for a period of transition.
Fortunately, Martinelli has shown enough in a short space of time to suggest that he could very well be that replacement. In fact, if his form in cup competitions continues for much longer, Emery might well have no choice but to call upon him as an ’emergency break glass’ to save his job amid a faltering 2019/20 campaign.