In the past couple of weeks, we’ve been covering claims from Brazil saying Arsenal are following the Ituano youngster Gabriel Martinelli.
The teenager, who’s already been on trial at Manchester United, has been receiving attention from European sides for a while, and has now started to prove himself at a professional level.
Martinelli has been showing some great goalscoring ability, but more than that, has been proving to be a complete attacking player, with good speed and skills to do a job on the wing as well.
Now with reports saying Martinelli could sign for Arsenal for only €8m, why would he be so cheap?
The main reason is he plays for a small club. Despite spending some time at Corinthians’ academy, Martinelli moved to Itu with his family, and has been at Ituano for the past few years.
Ituano are currently a Fourth Division side, but there’s a special reason why the player has been getting all the spotlight in the past couple of months.
Firstly, in early January, he played in the Copa São Paulo de Futebol Júnior, Brazil’s biggest U20 tournament. He did pretty well there, having scored six goals in four games, and that will have brought him to the attention of Arsenal and others.
And from January to April, before the league starts, there are the State Championships in Brazil. They are a good chance for small clubs to have big challenges. As Ituano are located in the state of São Paulo, they compete against the likes of Corinthians, Palmeiras, Santos and São Paulo.
And Martinelli has impressed among the big boys, having a place in Ituano’s starting team and scoring four goals in ten matches. These are very good numbers for a youngster from a small club.
The State Championship soon comes to an end, and it’s very unlikely that Martinelli will stay at Ituano to play the Fourth Division for the entire season.
For now, Brazilian clubs can’t compete with European sides, and that’s why the local race is a bit cold. But if Martinelli doesn’t move to Europe this year, it’s likely he’s signing for a big local club, and that’s when he will become a lot more expensive.
So if Arsenal are convinced to sign him, getting an early deal would be crucial to signing him for a small price.