It’s very common that big European clubs watch young talents from an early age, and that’s the case with Gabriel Martinelli. Even before he signed for Arsenal at the age of 18, it was well known that he had already trained with Barcelona and Manchester United.

With the Red Devils and Gunners playing at Old Trafford tonight, ESPN Brasil publishes an interesting story about the striker’s situation before moving to Europe. They managed to speak to Everton Gushiken, a scout from the London side, who told part of the story.

It all starts with Martinelli playing for Ituano. That’s where he caught Manchester United’s attention and had the first chances to train with the club. ESPN Brasil points out that between 2015 and 2017, he went to Manchester four times, and that’s when Arsenal started following him.

“In 2017, he started to get Arsenal’s attention more seriously for his ability to finish, to play in the three positions in front, the intensity and the ability to execute the actions with the ball at high speed. There are many qualities in one player, it’s rare,” Gushiken told ESPN Brasil’s Vladimir Bianchini.

While the Gunners followed him, Martinelli was also invited to train at Barcelona’s La Masia. On his return to Ituano, he still played the Copa São Paulo, Brazil’s most famous youth tournament, and was soon promoted to the first team.

“Manchester United still had priority over Martinelli, but gave up on the player and Barcelona also did not want to bet on him despite having called him for a test. The path to Arsenal got a little easier, since in the 2019 Copa São Paulo we had already decided positively about signing him, so we opened negotiations with Ituano in February 2019.

“He played the State Championship for Ituano’s first team, already being negotiated with Arsenal, and obviously other European clubs came for him, but in this case we had the advantage of being first, and also for showing interest in taking him directly to Arsenal. Other big ones wanted to buy to loan, and when they wanted directly, they were clubs much smaller than Arsenal.”

Gabriel Martinelli officially joined Arsenal in the summer of 2019 on a €6.7m deal. During his time in London, he has 13 goals and seven assists in 57 appearances so far.