Gabriel Martinelli says Arsenal preferred not to let him join up with the Brazil u23s for their Olympic qualification tournament over the last month.

LONDON, ENGLAND – JANUARY 21: Gabriel Martinelli of Arsenal scores his team’s first goal during the Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Arsenal FC at Stamford Bridge on January 21, 2020, in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

The Brazil u23s are currently taking part in a qualification tournament for the Olympics this summer. They wanted Gabriel Martinelli to join them, naming him in the preliminary squad.

As we reported on in late December, however, Arsenal didn’t want to let him go. As the event took place outside of FIFA’s official international break periods, the Gunners weren’t any obligation to do so.

Martinelli told UOL this week that he wanted to go, but it wasn’t his choice.

“I said that if it was up to me I would play,” Martinelli said. “But we already knew it would be difficult. It was a time when I was a starter (at Arsenal), and people preferred not to let me go.”

As for a possible senior call-up, Martinelli confirmed Brazil staff member and ex-Ituano president Juninho Paulista has spoken to him about his progress. At this stage though, that hasn’t led to a call-up.

“He [Juninho] already called me, spoke to me and congratulated me on what I’m doing,” Martinelli continued. “I haven’t been called up yet, but I’m very calm about it.

“We talked a little after he went to the national team. He called me, said that this was the opportunity of my life, that I should give my best because things would go well. He was a fundamental guy in the four years that I spent at Ituano.”

How are Brazil doing without Martinelli?

Brazilian forward Matheus Cunha (L) and Colombian midfielder Kevin Balanta vie for the ball during a Under-23 South American Pre-Olympic Tournament football match at Alfonso Lopez stadium, Bucaramanga, Colombia on February 3, 2020. (Photo by JUAN BARRETO/AFP via Getty Images)
Brazilian forward Matheus Cunha (L) and Colombian midfielder Kevin Balanta vie for the ball. Under-23 South American Pre-Olympic Tournament football match at Alfonso Lopez Stadium, Bucaramanga, Colombia on February 3, 2020. (Photo by JUAN BARRETO/AFP via Getty Images)

Brazil had no trouble in the first stage of the tournament. They won all four of their games in Group B, qualifying for the final stage in top spot.

They’re off to a slower start in the final group though. There are four teams, each playing the others once, and the top two qualify for the Olympics.

Brazil drew their first game with Colombia 1-1, leaving them second as things stand. They face Uruguay and Argentina this week in the final two games. Argentina currently lead the group after their win over Uruguay.

It’s definitely worth keeping an eye on the final two results. Martinelli’s summer almost certainly depends on them.