‘So happy’ – Martinelli opens up on heartbreaking Man Utd snub that preceded fruitful Arsenal period

Gabriel Martinelli, Arsenal, September 2022 Credit: Alamy
Gabriel Martinelli, Arsenal, September 2022 Credit: Alamy

Gabriel Martinelli has admitted he was “shaken” when Manchester United snubbed him, but is “so happy” at Arsenal, and believes that happened for a reason.

Martinelli joined the Gunners in 2019 as an 18-year-old. The forward has played more than 100 times for the Emirates outfit, and is playing a starring role this season.

However, things could have been vastly different, as he trialled for both Manchester United and Barcelona prior to his Arsenal move.

“You see, I used to be part of this project at Manchester United. I was actually there for several trials. I even met many of the senior players. When I was 17, I had my last session there, so I went back to Brazil waiting for news,” he told The Players’ Tribune.

“One day my dad called me into the living room. He had spoken to my agent and … well, United had said no. Not just, No, for this year. But, No, we don’t want him. At all.

“To be honest, I was shaken. They had seen me play several times, and I was sure they were going to sign me, you know? A few weeks later I got another trial, at Barcelona. I spent 15 days there. They didn’t want me either. That was easier to accept, because it was just one trial.”

Indeed, Martinelli’s career could have panned out very differently, had either of those sides decided to take him on board.

“I thank God that I came to Arsenal in 2019. I really believe that things happen for a reason, and I’m so happy here. It’s funny to look back now, because I could so easily have ended up somewhere else,” he added.

Both Martinelli and Arsenal are thriving thanks to him being at the club. He was eased in through his first couple of seasons, playing 14 Premier League games in each.

Last season, he was an important member of the squad, playing 29 Premier League games and contributing to 12 goals.

That has continued this season, as Martinelli has been part of a very potent attack. The Brazilian forward has contributed to seven goals in 14 league games, helping the Gunners to the top of the table.

His connection with the rest of the front line is clear to see. Martinelli, Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Jesus have all scored five goals each so far this season.

Arsenal might not be in their current position if Martinelli had been snapped up by another club, so it seems him being rejected by United and Barcelona was a blessing.

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