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Arteta tells Martinelli how to land Arsenal starting spot as Gunners put faith in youth

08:43 BST 20/05/2021
Gabriel Martinelli Mikel Arteta Arsenal GFX
The Gunners boss has assured a highly-rated Brazilian forward that he has a prominent place in his future planning at Emirates Stadium

Mikel Arteta has told Gabriel Martinelli that he needs to "keep fighting" for a starting berth at Arsenal, with the Gunners prepared to show considerable faith in youth.

Home-grown stars have become integral to long-term plans at Emirates Stadium, with the likes of Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe taking on prominent roles in 2020-21.

Brazilian starlet Martinelli, who is just 19 years of age, is another player of promise that Arsenal have high hopes for and he will get opportunities to impress after struggling for regular starts during an injury-hit second season in north London.

What has been said?

Asked how close the teenager is to nailing down a place in his starting XI, Arteta told reporters after seeing Martinelli find the target in a 3-1 win over Crystal Palace: "Very close. He needs to keep fighting to be closer and closer. 

"We need to understand where the boys are in the phase of their development and what they have done already this season and last season. 

"I know that we want to play with 11 academy players under 20, but guys, who is doing that? 

"We are doing more than anybody and they are going to have the chances, they are earning their chances, it's not like we are giving [away] the chances. 

"They are earning the chances and it's a joy to have them with us."

How has Martinelli fared this season?

An unfortunate knee injury picked up towards the end of the 2019-20 campaign saw Martinelli take in a long road to recovery.

Rehabilitation forced him to sit out FA Cup and Community Shield triumphs, with 30 games missed in total.

A return to action was made in December, but an ankle complaint then forced the youngster back onto the sidelines early in 2021.

Momentum was proving hard to establish, with others making the most of their chances in Martinelli's absence.

Arteta has remained reluctant to use the South American from the off since hooking him at half-time in a 0-0 draw with Manchester United on January 30.

Martinelli has figured in 14 fixtures since then, but started only four of those contests.

He has made 22 appearances across all competitions this term, registering two goals and a couple of assists to go alongside the 10 efforts he recorded in a productive debut campaign with the Gunners.

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