Arsenal loan star Martin Odegaard has picked out Gabriel Martinelli as a player with a massive future at the club and urged him to keep working hard to force his way back into the team.
The Brazilian teenager enjoyed a superb start to his career with the Gunners but was forced to miss nine months with a long-term knee injury sustained at the start of last year.
He made his long-awaited return in December, featuring in three consecutive Premier League matches, but his game time has dried up since then.
Martinelli was an unused substitute in six straight league games and did not even make the bench for the north London derby victory over Spurs, though he was given a brief cameo against West Ham last time out.
The 19-year-old has only been given 22 minutes of Europa League action too, but Odegaard has seen enough in training to know that Martinelli is a class act and expects him to win back his place in the side.
Asked if there was a young player at Arsenal that had particularly impressed him, Odegaard told the Premier League: ‘Yeah. Obviously we have Bukayo [Saka] and Emile [Smith Rowe] and they are already playing so much. ‘But I think one guy who hasn’t played that much lately is Gabi Martinelli.
‘He’s such a big talent, you see him in training every day and you see it. He’s a really talented player with a lot of qualities, so I think definitely he’s one for the future.
And he’s so young still, so I will go with him.’ Asked if Martinelli can have an impact in the Arsenal first team, Odegaard continued: ‘Yeah definitely.
‘As I said, he’s really young so he just has to keep working hard – as he’s doing every day in training.
‘He will reach his goals because, from what I see every day in training, he’s a top, top talent. ‘For him it’s just about continuing doing his work and then everything will come for him.’
Martinelli is yet to open his account for Arsenal this season in 11 appearances and only has one assist – in a 4-1 defeat to Manchester City in the Carabao Cup – but he was electric during his first season at the club and is working hard to get back to full fitness after his long lay-off.