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Ronaldinho: Arsenal Starlet Gabriel Martinelli 'Reminds Me of Ronaldo'

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistJanuary 27, 2020

Brazilian stars Ronaldo, left, and Ronaldinho wait for the kick off of the World Cup, Round of 16 soccer match between Brazil and Ghana, at the Dortmund stadium, Germany, Tuesday, June 27, 2006. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) **MOBILE/PDA USAGE OUT**
MARK J. TERRILL/Associated Press

Brazil icon Ronaldinho has heaped praise on Arsenal youngster Gabriel Martinelli, saying he reminds him of his former international team-mate Ronaldo.

Martinelli has shone in his first season with the Gunners, establishing himself as an important member of the first-team squad. His influence has been unexpectedly significant in 2019-20, having only signed from fourth-tier Brazilian club Ituano in the summer.

Per John Cross of the Daily Mirror, Ronaldinho was quizzed on the 18-year-old and he said his compatriots are excited about what Martinelli can accomplish in the game:

"We as Brazilians are very excited about him and his future. It is one thing to have the talent, but another at the age of 18 to have the confidence.

"He reminds me of Ronaldo. His first season in Europe he scored 30 goals and people were thinking: ‘who is this 18-year-old Brazilian kid?’ He wanted the ball, he would run at players, there was no fear no matter what players or team he was playing against—and I see that similar attitude in Martinelli.

"He just wants to be on the ball and score goals. Ronaldo went on to be the best player in the world, and that can also be the aim of Martinelli."

Martinelli has enhanced his reputation in recent outings, scoring crucial Premier League goals for the Gunners in draws against Sheffield United and Chelsea.

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His strike in the latter came at the end of a blistering run on the counter:

Arsenal @Arsenal

🕹 #CHEARS 🏃‍♂️ 67 yards to goal ⏱ 8.4 seconds to get there ✅ Challenge accepted https://t.co/Nsudpcs4tW

That goal took Martinelli into double figures in all competitions for the season already, and as OptaJoe noted, it's been a long time since a teenager managed that haul for the Gunners:

OptaJoe @OptaJoe

10 - Gabriel Martinelli is the first teenager to score 10+ goals in a single season for Arsenal (all competitions) since Nicolas Anelka in 1998-99. Wonder. #CHEARS https://t.co/Y79dUpXFS3

Given Arsenal only paid a reported £6 million to sign the teenager, already he is looking like a stunning acquisition from the club.

Considering his age, the pressure that comes with playing for Arsenal and step up in quality he will have faced since the transfer, it's remarkable that he's been able to have such a huge impact for the Gunners.

The goal against Chelsea epitomised all the exciting traits Martinelli has showcased so far, as he's quick, direct and an excellent finisher.

While comparisons with a legend like Ronaldo feel premature, Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has also tipped Martinelli to reach the summit of the game:

Aubameyang P-E @Aubameyang7

Gabi’s gonna be a superstar 🙏🏽 Not because of the Goal because of the attitude Energy and mindset ☝🏽

Although Arsenal would have been keen to slowly transition Martinelli into life in European football, his performances are making it difficult for manager Mikel Arteta to leave him out of the team.

The Gunners are in action against Bournemouth on Monday in the FA Cup fourth round. It's a match Aubameyang is suspended for, and after two goals in Martinelli's last two games, Arteta will surely turn to the teenager again to ensure the team have an edge in front of goal.  

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