Ben White’s shocking comments on Unai Emery signing to Mikel Arteta speak volumes
Gabriel Martinelli has always been held in high esteem at Arsenal, but the Brazilian’s rapid evolution over the past few months has still come as something of a surprise.
The talented winger, who was snapped up by former boss Unai Emery back in 2019, has made the most of his opportunity to establish himself as a key player under Mikel Arteta over the past 12 months.
But one person who is unlikely to be surprised by Martinelli’s stunning rise is Ben White. That’s because the former Brighton defender highlighted the forward as the club’s most skilful player last year – just months after arriving at the Emirates.
During a Q&A on Arsenal’s Twitch channel last October, White lauded Martinelli and the 21-year-old’s “silky” skills well before he was given a sustained run of first-team opportunities by Arteta. White said: “I would probably have to say Gabriel [Martinelli]. He’s silky!”
Since White’s bold verdict, Martinelli has gone on to establish himself as one of the club’s most important players. The former Ituano man had struggled to make an impact in the first-team picture under Emery, but Martinelli has flourished under Arteta; and after notching four goals and two assists in just 10 Premier League games, the forward is already well on course to enjoy his best-ever season.
Unsurprisingly, Martinelli’s form has won him plenty of admirers. Jurgen Klopp has been particularly vocal about the youngster, who is currently in talks over a new deal with the club.
Martinelli played a key role in downing Klopp’s Liverpool side last weekend in a 3-2 win for the Gunners, and after the match, Arteta insisted that the club were committed to reaching an agreement over a contract said: “We don’t get directed by an individual performance. Gabby doesn’t have to show me whether he plays well or not well today what he deserves.
“What is clear is his hunger, his determination and his love for this game. You don’t know where he’s going to reach because he’s always asking and willing for more.”
Martinelli’s recent form has also left former Arsenal favourite Ian Wright purring. And the former Gunners goal machine has urged the club to do whatever it takes to get the winger to agree to a new long-term deal.
“The way Arsenal went about that game and the way Gabriel Martinelli played… he was doing the work of two men,” Wright said on his podcast for The Ringer following the win over Liverpool. “He was blazing up and down that right side. I’m telling you, he’s the one! With Martinelli, if I’m Arsenal, I’m going in now and offering him whatever he wants.”