Paul Merson: What I really think of Gabriel Martinelli at Arsenal
Paul Merson discusses Gabriel Martinelli's strong start to life at Arsenal
Paul Merson believes that Gabriel Martinelli could end up being a “top player” for Arsenal but says it is too soon to start relying on the teenager.
The 18-year-old has been earning rave reviews since his move to The Emirates from Brazilian club Ituano in the summer transfer window last year.
Martinelli has impressed with his energetic performances and he has already scored 10 goals and made two assists for the Gunners in all competitions this season.
The youngster has stepped up of late in the absence of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who recently served a three-match suspension in the Premier League.
With the speculation about Aubameyang’s future continuing, Merson feels that Arsenal should keep hold of the Gabon international and gradually give Martinelli some more first-team experience.
Writing in his column for Sky Sports, Merson said: “I thought Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang would be about 31, 32 when he left, and if I was Arsenal I’d keep him in the summer.
“I’d keep him and say, you know what, give him what you can next year and get us into the Champions League and you can go for free. It’s hard to buy goals, and he’s a natural scorer.
“Gabriel Martinelli could be a top player and I like him, but if I keep Aubameyang I’ve got 15-20 goals, and that’s some doing.
“To ask Martinelli to come in and do that, you couldn’t ask that. We think these players are 22 or 23, but at 18 to do it in this league, I’m a big fan of his, it’s just all about timing.”
Martinelli and Aubameyang will both be hoping to feature for Arsenal when the Gunners return to Premier League action with a home clash against Newcastle United on Sunday.
The north London side – who finished fifth last term and without a trophy – are currently 10th in the table and 10 points behind fourth-placed Chelsea FC in the race for Champions League qualification.