‘Great player’: Rio Ferdinand raves about 18-year-old Arsenal star
Man United legend Rio Ferdinand is a big fan of Arsenal teenager Gabriel Martinelli
Rio Ferdinand is backing Arsenal teenager Gabriel Martinelli to blossom into one of the best players in the world.
The 18-year-old has enjoyed a fruitful first season in English football after Arsenal signed Martinelli in a £6m deal from Brazilian club Ituano in the summer transfer window.
Martinelli hasn’t taken long to impress in the Arsenal team under all three of their managers in the current campaign.
The Brazilian prospect has scored 10 times in all competitions during his breakthrough campaign in the English top flight.
His 10-goal haul includes finding the net three times in 14 outings in the Premier League.
Martinelli has already received praise from Liverpool FC manager Jurgen Klopp for his fine performances this term.
Former Manchester United defender Ferdinand has been impressed by Martinelli’s maturity given his lack of first-team experience.
“I watched him against Bournemouth away, Jesus. The way this boy played,” Ferdinand said in an Instagram Live.
“I watched him against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. He is a proper player, I think he is going to be a player in world football in years to come.
“18 years old doing what he is doing. The goal against Chelsea alone, he runs from the edge of his box, set-piece against his team takes it up the other end. Normally your legs are gone by then and you’ve got no energy, he has got the composure to slot it.
“Great player, but his awareness of how he plays, the way he moves on the pitch, the way he is intelligent to receive the ball. He comes inside at the right times, it is mad, he is a mature player for such a young kid.
“He needs to play next year, I think Arteta is going to find a way to get him in there.”
Martinelli scored his first Premier League goal in a 3-1 win over West Ham United at the London Stadium back in December.
The Brazilian teenager netted for the second time in the English top flight in a 1-1 draw with Sheffield United.
Martinelli’s third goal came in a 2-2 draw with bitter rivals Chelsea FC at Stamford Bridge.
Arsenal signed Pablo Mari and Cedric Soares in loan deals in January but the Gunners haven’t made a permanent transfer since Mikel Arteta’s appointment.