Arsenal youngster Gabriel Martinelli has today opened up on his time spent on trial with Barcelona, as well as rumours of interest in his services on the part of fellow La Liga giants Real Madrid.
18-year-old attacker Martinelli made the move to the Emirates last summer, from his home country of Brazil.
With Arsenal having also secured the high-profile additions of the likes of Dani Ceballos, Kieran Tierney and Nicolas Pepe, though, Martinelli’s arrival slipped somewhat under the radar.
The campaign to this point, however, has arguably seen the South American prodigy stand out as the most consistent of the Gunners’ latest batch of signings.
Despite his tender years, Martinelli already looks a genuine star in the making.
The youngster possess all of the desirable traits of a modern attacker, combining touch, stature, poise, pace, the ability to beat opposing defenders and, perhaps most-significantly of all, a real eye for goal.
This has allowed Martinelli to directly contribute to a remarkable 10 goals across 7 appearances between the League Cup and Europa League to this point in the season.
In addition, he has recently carried his goalscoring exploits onto the Premier League stage, with crucial strikes versus both Sheffield United and Chelsea.
‘Didn’t want anything to do with me’
Martinelli’s fledgling career, though, could easily have branched out in a different direction.
The Brazilian previously spent time on trial with both Barcelona and Manchester United.
And, speaking earlier today, Arsenal’s latest up-and-coming star opened up on his time spent with the former.
Martinelli’s Barca stint came at the beginning of last year, when he spent two weeks training with the Spanish champions’ famed La Masia academy.
However, evidently, the Blaugrana hierarchy opted against making a move for the teen, with Martinelli having since provided an insight into his experience in Catalunya:
‘Shortly before the Sao Paulo Cup I spent a few days training in Barcelona. I spent 15 days there,’ he explained during an interview with Marca.
‘Barcelona invited me to train with them in La Masia but afterwards they didn’t want to do anything with me, they didn’t tell me anything … I went back to Ituano, I played Copinha and then I came to Arsenal.’
The South American continued:
‘They were all very good, I took full advantage and gave my best.’
‘To see how they train, know the structure of the club, the city … it was a dream come true.’
‘I even trained with Ansu Fati and we became friends. He helped me a lot there and is now playing in the main team. He is a boy who deserves everything that is happening to him. He is super humble and welcomed me really well there.’
‘My head is here’
Finally, Martinelli was briefly drawn on the speculation that Real Madrid are expressing a keen interest in his services.
The young attacker, though, was quick to assure that he remains fully focused on Arsenal:
‘No, nothing has come to me.’
‘I am focused here doing my job at Arsenal and my head is here.’