Gabriel Martinelli could face a big problem at Arsenal next season after choosing to represent Brazil at international level.
The teenager has represented the South American nation at youth level but holds an Italian passport, which aided his move to north London from Ituano in the summer of 2019.
Italy have reportedly kept close tabs on the forward in recent years and are said to have pushed for him to represent the European nation but Martinelli ‘s recent comments have brought that debate to an end
“Now, get back to playing more. But surely in the future to win the Champions League, to win the World Cup and the Premier League with Arsenal,” he told ESPN Brasil last month. “The World Cup with Brazil. My dream is to play for the Brazilian national team.”
In choosing Brazil over Italy, Martinelli could be in danger of missing the start of the 2021/22 season, as a result of the Tokyo Olympics, which was postponed last summer due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Olympics had been scheduled to take place between July and August 2020, but will now take place in the summer, which could represent an issue for Arsenal.
With the Olympics finishing on August 8, depending on the 2021/22 Premier League season start date, Martinelli could miss the start of the new campaign if Brazil progress deep into the tournament.
Interestingly, the 19-year-old was named in the Brazil Olympic squad alongside the likes of Real Madrid’s Vinicius Jr and Hertha Berlin’s Matheus Cunha when it was planned to take place last summer.
Therefore, one would expect him to still be in contention.
Martinelli was called-up to play in a pre-Olympic tournament for the Brazil Under-23 side last January, but revealed that the Gunners blocked his call-up.
“I said that if it was up to me I would play,” he said. “But we already knew it would be difficult. It was a time when I was starter at Arsenal, and people preferred not to let me go.”
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Having struggled for game time since returning from a long-term knee injury, potentially missing the start of next season may harm Martinelli’s chances of becoming a regular under Mikel Arteta.
Players usually get time off after an international tournament and if Brazil were to be involved in the Gold medal match then the forward may not feature for the Gunners during the month of August.
The draw for the Tokyo Games football tournament groups takes place on April 21st with Brazil beginning the defence of their Gold medal on July 21st.