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Arsenal's Gabriel Martinelli 'Very Proud' of Jurgen Klopp Praise

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistFebruary 8, 2020

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 30: Joe Gomez of Liverpool and Gabriel Martinelli pf Arsenal in action during the Carabao Cup Fourth Round match between Liverpool and Arsenal at the Anfield Stadium on October 30, 2019 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Visionhaus)
Visionhaus/Getty Images

Arsenal forward Gabriel Martinelli couldn't help being flattered by Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp's praise following a Carabao Cup clash between the two Premier League rivals back in October.

Martinelli scored twice during the 5-5 draw at Anfield before a young Liverpool side won 5-4 on penalties. The Brazilian was lauded by Klopp, something the 18-year-old reflected on during a recent interview with Marca (h/t Jake Polden of the Daily Mirror): "I feel very proud that one of the best tacticians in the world speaks well of me. Now I have to remain firm, focused and continue working to achieve greater things."

Klopp was sufficiently wowed to adorn Martinelli with the lofty label "talent of the century," per Polden.

Martinelli may not be at that level, but he has been defying expectations during his first season in England. He arrived from Ituano last summer for a fee believed to be £6 million, a sum that's looked like a bargain since, thanks to Martinelli scoring 10 goals and providing three assists in all competitions.

More than just the numbers, Martinelli has shown a coolness in front of goal beyond his tender years, as was seen with his super solo goal during the 2-2 draw away to Chelsea in January.

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Martinelli's performances have made him a regular under head coach Mikel Arteta since the Spaniard succeeded Freddie Ljungberg in late December. He's started the last three games in England's top flight, as well as the 2-1 win over Bournemouth in the FA Cup fourth round.

Martinelli has shown a keen eye for goal during his debut campaign in England.
Martinelli has shown a keen eye for goal during his debut campaign in England.Ashley Western/MB Media/Getty Images

Martinelli's quick adaptation helped Arsenal cope without leading scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang during a three-game suspension in January, and his performance has been all the more valuable to Arsenal because of the struggles of Nicolas Pepe, who was a far more expensive summer addition to the team's forwards.

The former Lille winger became the Gunners' record signing when he arrived from Ligue 1 in a deal worth £72 million. Yet Pepe has failed to become a regular starter under Arteta or predecessors Ljungberg and Unai Emery, managing five goals and as many assists in 27 appearances across all competitions (17 starts).

Doubts about Aubameyang's future, along with Pepe's problems, will increase Martinelli's importance.
Doubts about Aubameyang's future, along with Pepe's problems, will increase Martinelli's importance.DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/Getty Images

Pepe's struggles, along with persistent rumours linking Aubameyang with a move away, mean Martinelli could soon become a player Arteta builds his team around.

Martinelli was originally signed as a prospect to be developed, but his rapid strides should save Arsenal millions in the transfer market in the coming years.

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