Arsenal striker Gabriel Martinelli hits back after Brazil World Cup call-up labelled a ‘calamitous joke’

Gabriel Martinelli, Arsenal, October 2022

Arsenal forward Gabriel Martinelli has hit back at claims that his call-up to Brazil’s World Cup squad is a ‘calamity’ and a ‘joke’.

The 21-year-old has been named in Brazil’s 26-man squad for Qatar, which begins with a clash against Serbia on November 24, as the  Selecao look to claim their sixth title and their first since 2002.

However, after the squad was announced, former Brazil midfielder Neto hit out at the decision to take Martinelli and not Flamengo forward Gabriel Barbosa instead.

Barbosa has scored 29 goals in 62 games throughout 2022 and should have been on the plane to Qatar ahead of the Arsenal man, according to Neto.

Speaking to Os Donos da Bola, he said: “This is a shame, a joke! I feel ashamed! What is Martinelli’s story? 33 career goals. This is a shame, a lack of respect for football. Doing this with football shows that you don’t deserve the position you are in.

“Calling up Martinelli and not calling up Gabigol is a lack of respect. The biggest shame of all the call-ups. Calling up Martinelli shows that you, Tite, shouldn’t hold the position you do, because you’re not fair to Gabigol.

“The guy [Martinelli] who scores five goals in the season, who walks around the mall here, nobody knows who he is… And not taking Gabigol, the guy who scored the goal of the Libertadores title, who scored 29 goals in the season.

“What has Martinelli done in European football? Arsenal are not even in the Champions League. This is a calamity!”

Arsenal star backs his ability in Qatar

Martinelli, however, was bullish in his response to Neto as he prepares for the showcase tournament.

He told ESPN Brasil: “I think this is normal.

“Some people in Brazil don’t know me, and it’s also normal to say that other players deserved to be there. But I’m pretty cool about it. I think this is normal.

“I know what I’m doing at my club, I know my ability and I know what I can do.

“And you can be sure that I will do my best for the Brazilian team, in whatever I can help the team I will help. It will be a great experience for me.’

Asked about the reaction he received at Arsenal following his call-up, Martinelli added: “Everyone was very happy for us to be in the World Cup.

“It’s good for Arsenal too, to have players in the World Cup. And everyone was very happy, we are a very united team.

“Today there was also the call-up of Bukayo [Saka], Aaron [Ramsdale] and Ben [White], so we are happy for each other.

“We know that we are at the top of the Premier League, but this is just the beginning, and that we still have a lot of work to do.”

Arsenal play their final game before the World Cup when they head to Wolves on Saturday evening.

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