Arsenal striker Gabriel Martinelli has explained how Manchester United missed out on his signature – despite the Red Devils doing all the groundwork in the years prior to his arrival at the Gunners.
The 18-year-old has enjoyed an impressive breakthrough season at Arsenal since arriving in a bargain £5m deal from Ituano having scored 10 goals in 25 appearances for the Gunners and earning widespread praise from the likes of Jurgen Klopp, who called him the “talent of the century”.
The 18-year-old is regarded as one of the brightest prospects in South America and his form has already seen him mentioned as a possible summer target for Real Madrid.
Martinelli, who holds an Italian passport which ensured he did not need a visa to play for Arsenal, could, however, have signed for United instead, with the Red Devils, seemingly, having had an interest in the teenager from an early age.
“Ituano and United had an agreement that allowed me to go every year, for four years, to train with boys my age or older,” Martinelli told FourFourTwo, [via AS]. “It was great, because I could try English football. I met [Marouane] Fellaini, [Patrice] Evra and [Paul] Pogba and I had photos with them.
“Why didn’t I sign for United? They never made me an offer, so I went back to Ituano and did my job.”
Martinelli, however, has admitted that United weren’t the only ones to miss out with Barcelona also letting the youngster slip through their grasp, having been invited over to their famed academy for a trial in 2018.
“I went in November 2018 and I was training in La Masía for two weeks.
“I was not lucky enough to meet any of the players of the first team because it was the international break. I could not see [Lionel] Messi.
The Brazilian strikes also acknowledged that he was slightly overwhelmed with the facilities of both clubs. “Everything in Europe was new to me and I was impressed with all the things they had in these great clubs: the gym, the number of pitches.”