Football News

Ronaldinho: Why Arsenal teenager Martinelli’s breakthrough reminds me of Ronaldo

By Mohamed Moallim

Arsenal's Gabriel Martinelli

Published: 16:45, 27 January 2020

Ronaldinho has likened Arsenal forward Gabriel Martinelli’s breakthrough season in European football to that of fellow Brazil football legend Ronaldo.

The 18-year-old is enjoying a brilliant start to life at the Emirates Stadium following his move from boyhood club Ituano last summer.

Martinelli’s rapid rise: Five key things to know…

  • Martinelli joined Arsenal from Ituano in the summer of 2019 for a reported fee of £6m.
  • He’s since gone on to make 21 appearances in all competitions, registering 10 goals.
  • Martinelli became the first Arsenal player since Ian Wright to score four goals across his opening four starts.
  • He’s also the first Arsenal teenager since Nicolas Anelka to score 10 goals during a single season.
  • Brazil legend Ronaldinho has compared his rise to that of countryman Ronaldo.

Martinelli – who can play in a variety of roles across the forward line – has featured in 21 matches in all competitions this season, registering 10 goals and creating a further three for his teammates.

Of late, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang serving a domestic ban, he’s featured more prominently under Mikel Arteta and has scored in each of Arsenal’s last two Premier League outings.

Martinelli’s recent effort against Chelsea saw him become the first Arsenal teenager since Nicolas Anelka in the 1998/99 season to score 10 or more goals during a single league campaign.

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His exploits haven’t only been recognised in England and he also has a growing list of admirers in his homeland including compatriot Ronaldinho, who feels the youngster’s current rise is similar to that of Ronaldo.

“We as Brazilians are very excited about him and his future. It is one thing to have the talent – but another at the age of 18 to have the confidence,” he told the Daily Mirror.

“He reminds me of Ronaldo his first season in Europe he scored 30 goals and people were thinking: ‘who is this 18-year-old Brazilian kid?’

“He wanted the ball, he would run at players, there was no fear no matter what players or team he was playing against – and I see that similar attitude in Martinelli.

“He just wants to be on the ball and score goals. Ronaldo went on to be the best player in the world – and that can also be the aim of Martinelli.”

The teenager may be handed another opportunity to prove his worth on Monday night when Arsenal travel to Bournemouth in the FA Cup fourth round.