Why is Martinelli Not Playing?
Football fandom in the modern world of Twitter, YouTube comps, trolls and reddit gifs is an utterly impatient, reactive thing. Do we have a shiny new graduate from the academy? Play him immediately! Have we signed a new player from Netherlands? He must be the next Arjen Robben!
Supporters no longer support a club but players. Everyone has an agenda, everyone has a favourite. Every young talent in the squad must be the next Messi. Team news is leaked weeks before matchdays. The transfer window is like some festive season: flights are tracked, barbers are club officials and social media likes are analyzed for clues to forgotten criminal cases. Nobody retains any sort of perspective. The only future is the next matchday. And for an exciting young talent like Gabriel Martinelli, age is but a number and all caution must be thrown into the wind.
The thirst for him to play is understandable. Martinelli is a very exciting talent. And some of the older forwards have been lacklustre for much of the season. However, nobody is considering any other factors. Things like his fitness management, the coach’s views and the competition are irrelevant. However, one must consider these things in order to gain an understanding of what is going on. We know for sure now that Martinelli is healthy and available to play. What else must be stopping him from making an appearance?
The coach’s view of Martinelli’s profile is important as well as how the team is set up. Where does Martinelli play? Left inside-forward and central forward. In recent times, it has become obvious that the coach wants a creative winger on the left instead of an inside-forward like Aubameyang. Can Martinelli play this role? Maybe. But not better than Willian, Emile Smith-Rowe and even Bukayo Saka. Martinelli’s profile as a winger is simply different.
It goes to say therefore that the next available spot is central forward. Martinelli has played there before to great success and Arteta has recently returned Aubameyang to the role. It is not too much of a stretch to imagine that the coach considers Martinelli a striker of the same profile as Aubameyang. If we assume this, then it all makes sense. Eddie Nketiah has dropped out of first-team contention back into academy football. Who’s replacing him as the third striker if not Martinelli?
As such, Aubameyang is the first choice option. Lacazette is the second and Martinelli is the third. For now. In the summer transfer window, it is expected that Arsenal will sell Lacazette. That will make Martinelli the second-choice striker and when you consider the fact that Aubameyang’s contract expires in 2 more seasons, the pathway to first-team football suddenly becomes clear for the Brazilian.
Martinelli is just 19 and hasn’t even finished growing. He has all the time in the world to become a first-team option for us but, at the moment, Aubameyang is simply ahead of him and that is not a bad thing at all. Blessed with remarkably similar traits as the Gambian, Martinelli can pick up tricks of the trade from our star striker while he’s still here.
All of this might be mere speculation but there is clear evidence of a training video that Martinelli is being repurposed into a central role. Clearly, the coach has big plans for the lad and the future belongs to our young Brazilian striker.