Premier League • England

Thriving Arsenal ace reveals Man Utd blundered four transfer chances – ‘They never wanted me’

Arsenal quartet Granit Xhaka, Gabriel Martinelli, Mohamed Elneny and Martin Odegaard

The rapid rise of Gabriel Martinelli could have been to Man Utd’s benefit instead of Arsenal following the Brazilian’s latest revelations.

The forward, 20, has looked electric at times this season with his previous injury issues now firmly resigned to the history books. Martinelli has quickly established himself in Mikel Arteta’s front line, operating primarily from the left in the three behind Alexandre Lacazette.

The Brazilian bagged four goals and two assists during a six-game run in November and December that showed a glimpse of what could be to come on a more regular basis in the future.

Indeed, his performances have been of such a level this season that Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has taken note.

However, when speaking to the Athletic (via Goal), Martinelli revealed his career in England could’ve very easily been played out at Old Trafford.

Martinelli revealed he had four separate trials with Man Utd during his teenage years. However, their loss ultimately became Arsenal’s gain after the Red Devils never showed a willingness to sign him.

Instead, the Gunners acted fast in 2019 when snapping up the forward from Brazilian side Ituano for just £6m.

“I actually had four different trials at United when I was 13, 14, 15 and 16,” Martinelli told the Athletic.

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“This was in Manchester at the club’s training base, where I played in the same age group as Mason Greenwood and Brandon Williams and I met first-team players, like Zlatan [Ibrahimovic], Paul Pogba, Wayne Rooney and Patrice Evra.

“There was never a moment, though, when they said they wanted me [to sign] there. But it gave me a taste and made the adaptation a little easier because I had experienced football in England.

“Even after those trials, I always believed in myself. My mind is always thinking, ‘I can do it’.”

Arsenal going all the way to the top – Martinelli

Gabriel Martinelli of Arsenal

The Gunners have been without Champions League football since the 2016/17 season. That has impacted their ability to land the truly elite names in the transfer market.

However, it may end up working to their benefit after Arsenal chief Edu opted to target younger players whose best years lay ahead. Indeed, each of Arsenal’s six signings last summer were all aged 24 or under at the time they arrived.

Mikel Arteta has Arsenal trending in the right direction once again, and Martinelli is excited at what the future holds for the current crop.

“We are so young,” Martinelli added. “A lot of players are 22, 23, 24. We have time to improve and we are going to do that.

“One hundred per cent — we will be one of the best teams in the world.”

Romano clarifies Saka future as Man City, Liverpool circle

Meanwhile, transfer guru Fabrizio Romano has revealed when Arsenal will engage in contract talks with Bukayo Saka amid the winger’s links with Liverpool and Manchester City.

Saka has been in good form yet again this season, registering eight goals and four assists in all competitions so far. That includes a brace in the 5-0 thrashing of Norwich City on Boxing Day.

The 20-year-old is one of Arsenal’s most valuable assets, alongside fellow academy graduate Emile Smith Rowe. But reports claim Saka could be on the move in the near future.

According to a bombshell report from ESPN, both Liverpool and City are keeping tabs on his contract situation. Either club could launch an offer if Saka does not agree fresh terms at the Emirates.

However, Romano has now suggested a new deal at the Emirates could yet materialise. He said on The Here We Go Podcast (via The Boot Room): “I wanted to say one thing about Bukayo Saka because it’s normal to have a lot of rumours on Saka. This boy is doing incredible. I think sometimes he’s underrated in the press, but he’s a special talent.

“The player loves Arsenal, and at the moment, he’s not planning for something different.

“Contract talks won’t take place now. It’s not in February, it’s not in March, they will discuss maybe end of the season. But Arsenal are, of course, happy with him, and he is happy with them. So I don’t see any problem.”

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