One of the drawbacks of being the biggest club in the world is that with so many young talents knocking at our academy doors, it’s impossible to spot every potential star, let alone give everyone a chance.
So, unfortunately, sometimes young players don’t make it all the way through the age groups and sometimes slip through the cracks altogether.
One of those players, and one that I believe United should return to and do their utmost to give a second chance, is Gabriel Martinelli. The 18-year old Brazilian was signed by Arsenal from Ituano last summer and has made an electric start to life at the Emirates. But before whetting the appetites of Gunners, Martinelli had trials at United on four different occasions between 2015 and 2017, training for around fifteen days in total before being turned down by the club.
As well as bursting on to the scene as one of the Premier League’s most exciting young talents, Martinelli has lit up the Europa League in particular, notching three goals and three assists in seven games, playing just 424 minutes in total. This impressive ratio per 90 can be accredited to his straightforward, poacher playing-style – the type of goals United don’t score enough of – and his overall game is complemented by a good deal of pace and the occasional moment of trickery too.
Aside from his obvious goal-scoring instinct, there are a number of reasons why I believe Martinelli would be an excellent addition to the United squad. The first is his dynamism: not only does he enjoy the role of an out-and-out striker, but he has played all across Arsenal’s front three, and such versatility could benefit United’s frontline, where necessary.
Although his favoured position is off the left-wing, liking to cut inside and get a shot off, I also think he could be deployed on the right, putting in natural, in-swinging crosses from his preferred foot.
Despite the right-wing having been an issue for many years now, the club have had some recent success with Daniel James taking on this role in his debut season. Should we fail to secure Jadon Sancho though, it’d be exciting to see these two sharing this position – not unlike the days of ‘4-0 FC’, when either one of Martial or Rashford would start and the other would come on to replace him.
Mason vs Martinelli?
Furthermore, whilst there seems to have been a ‘Mason vs Martinelli’ narrative created among the likes of Arsenal Twitter, who says their relationship needs to be adversarial? There’s no doubt that they are two of the most exciting young players in the league, so, should United get a second bite at the cherry, the prospect of these two teenagers pushing each other and battling it out for regular starts in the first team would be invaluable to their development.
As alluded to in our piece on next season’s midfield trio, a healthy amount of competition for places is essential for any top team. With both Greenwood and Martinelli still at such a young age and not expecting to play every week, this is the perfect opportunity to create this dynamic – one that United have lacked for some time and one that could push their respective potentials even further. Like the Brazilian, Greenwood has flourished in the Europa League this season, and they would be a more than sufficient strike-force when playing alongside each other in a rotated side.
Of course, there is no guarantee that Martinelli would consider an offer if United came back with their tail between their legs after rejecting him at such an early age. According to FourFourTwo, his future remains firmly at the Emirates, however, if Pogba’s re-signing has taught us anything, it’s that United still has the appeal to bring players back. Moreover, if Arsenal continue in their faltering fashion, who says we couldn’t see another Robin Van Persie situation, where he has to leave to win silverware? I feel confident United will soon be a place player’s where come to do that again.
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