Premier League • England

Arsenal given full backing over theory for exciting attacker who ‘can be like Henry’

Allan Saint-Maximin and Gabriel Martinelli

The idea of Arsenal converting Gabriel Martinelli back into a centre-forward has been supported in no uncertain terms by someone who knows about scoring in the Premier League.

Arsenal are facing a major rebuild of their attack in the summer. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has already left, while Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah should follow him out the exit door at the ends of their contracts in June.

Neither is showing a major willingness to renew, despite Lacazette succeeding Aubameyang as club captain. Therefore, it could be time for an evolution up front.

Arsenal are well aware of this and have been trying to make a statement striker signing. Dusan Vlahovic was one man they wanted, but he switched Fiorentina for Juventus in January instead.

There have been ambitious links with other forwards like Alexander Isak. But there is a growing feeling that the answer may already be hiding in plain sight.

Reports have revealed Arsenal are ready to test Gabriel Martinelli back in a centre-forward role. The Brazilian played up top when he first joined the club before an injury, but has been on the wing more often since.

However, he now could adapt his role and save Arsenal a fortune in the process.

Gabriel Martinelli, Arsenal v West Ham December 2021

It will take time for him to prove his credentials in the role. However, one man who thinks he can have an impact there is Gabriel Agbonlahor.

The former Aston Villa striker, who scored 76 top-flight goals in his career, even went as far as suggesting Martinelli could emulate club legend Thierry Henry.

Asked if he can succeed in the central role, Agbonlahor told Football Insider: “100 per cent, yes.

“He looks like that sort of number nine who will drift out wide from the centre and make runs behind defenders and be a menace.

Agbonlahor envisages Arsenal front three

“He can finish too. I think he’s got everything to be a number nine.

“Then you can fit Nicolas Pepe on one wing and Bukayo Saka on the other. It definitely works, for me.

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Arsenal are looking at Rafael Leao from AC Milan for £50m

“Lacazette doesn’t offer enough agility and speed to play as Arsenal’s number nine at the moment.

“Martinelli can be like Henry and Henry did it all. I don’t see why Martinelli can start in the centre and drift out wide. He’s got it all as a centre-forward.”

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Arsenal to miss out on Martinelli repeat?

While Martinelli could go on to enjoy a successful Arsenal career, the club’s plans to repeat the transfer strategy that led him to the club could be in tatters.

Arsenal have been linked with Brazilian teenager Savio. The Atletico Mineiro winger has drawn comparisons with Martinelli.

A move to Europe – and potentially the Premier League – beckons for Savio. Arsenal have been scouting him, but could miss out.

The latest from The Guardian is that Manchester City have made their own bid for Savio.

It would be worth around £5.5m plus add-ons. There would also be a sell-on clause.

City could then loan Savio out, potentially to PSV Eindhoven, to aid his development. It seems he could join the long list of those that got away for the Gunners.

But in contrast, Martinelli is theirs to keep, and will be hoping to build upon his potential – perhaps as a lone striker.

READ MOREReport reveals Arsenal rejected big January chance to swap Aubameyang for PSG hotshot