Arsenal have been fortunate in the past two seasons to see young players breakthrough in the squad to become integral members of Mikel Arteta’s side.
Bukayo Saka made his mark in Unai Emery’s ill-fated stint at the Emirates Stadium before hitting new heights under Arteta, while last year saw Emile Smith Rowe follow in the footsteps of his fellow Hale End graduate.
Both players have seen their importance to the squad represented with squad number changes, with Saka holding the number seven and Smith Rowe given 10 for this season.
Now, all eyes are cast towards who the next player could be to continue this trend for Arsenal – and Saturday may have laid down the mantle for Gabriel Martinelli to do exactly that.
The Brazilian starlet has already made an impression in north London, scoring against the likes of Chelsea in the Premier League and starring in the club’s Europa League ventures.
Unfortunately, the 20-year-old has also sustained a number of injury problems that have affected his development – which included a knee injury last year that saw him miss 30 games.
The hope will be that those issues are now behind him, with his goal against Newcastle United at the weekend showing what he can offer – with a well-taken finish and a celebration displaying his passion.
An excelling Martinelli this season would also be superb for all parties too, with the youngster looking to nail down regular football and Arsenal having a spot in their squad for a young forward to break through.
With Alexandre Lacazette seeing his contract expiring at the end of the season, which will also see the number nine shirt become available, there is a need for a new forward – particularly with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the twilight years of his career and Eddie Nketiah also seeing his deal expire next year.
Finding a top-class new striker to replace them is a stern challenge in a market when a wealth of other top clubs are also in the running for players of a similar calibre.
Arsenal do have players under consideration but having Martinelli establish himself as a star like Saka and Smith Rowe have would save the club millions – which is again important as there is a wealth of work to do across the squad.
Given the impressive performances Martinelli has already shown in his Arsenal career so far, there’s no reason why the Brazilian cannot excel like the fans hope – and we’ll all just have to keep our fingers crossed that it all plays out correctly.
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