Not long after he signed for Arsenal, Gabriel Martinelli revealed that he used to train regularly with Manchester United, so why didn’t he sign for them?

Arsenal's Brazilian striker Gabriel Martinelli (C) celebrates scoring the opening goal with Arsenal's French-born Ivorian midfielder Nicolas Pepe (R) during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Sheffield United at the Emirates Stadium in London on January 18, 2020. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)
Arsenal’s Brazilian striker Gabriel Martinelli (C) celebrates scoring the opening goal with Arsenal’s French-born Ivorian midfielder Nicolas Pepe (R) during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Sheffield United at the Emirates Stadium in London on January 18, 2020. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)

We all knew that Martinelli trained with United and that they failed to sign him but I’m not sure we realised how much he was with them.

“For three or four years, I used to practise at Manchester United,” Martinelli said. “I would come to England, usually in the middle of the year, for about 15 or 20 days.

“It was a great experience, because I could find how European players behaved, how they defend, how they attack, how fast it is in their game.

“I improved a lot and brought it all back with me to Brazil, always trying to secure my place in the team. My dream was to play in Europe and these practices in England helped me do.”

In March 2020’s edition of FourFourTwo, they had an exclusive interview with Gabriel Martinelli in which he talked Arsenal and his trial at United and why he never signed for the Old Trafford outfit.

martinelli four four two march 20202
via FourFourTwo

The young Brazilian made an instant impact with Arsenal fans in his first season thanks to his energetic and intelligent play, helped, off course, handsomely, by his 10 goals and four assists at a rate of 104.5 minutes per goal or assist.

It could have all been so different, however, if Manchester United had bothered to make him an offer.

“There was a partnership between Ituano and Manchester United which allowed me to go there every year, for four years, to train with boys my age or older,” Martinelli told the magazine.

“That was nice, because I got a first taste of what English football was like. I met Marouane Fellaini, Patrice Evra and Paul Pogba, and made sure I got a photo with all of them.”

Four Four Two then asked the obvious question – why didn’t he sign for them? “They didn’t make an offer, so I returned to Ituano and kept doing my job there.”

It’s hard to look at Martinelli now and not wonder how any club could turn him away, but, to be honest, I don’t give a toss about that.

All I know is quite a few did, and Arsenal ended up winning as a result.

The Brazilian forward was Arsenal’s first transfer of the summer of 2019 but how much did Arsenal pay for Gabriel Martinelli?

Gabriel Martinelli signs his contract for Arsenal. Highbury House Boardroom. Emirates Stadium, 27/6/19. Credit : Arsenal Football Club / David Price.
Gabriel Martinelli signs his contract for Arsenal. Highbury House Boardroom. Emirates Stadium, 27/6/19. Credit : Arsenal Football Club / David Price.

Gabriel Martinelli’s’ arrival was expected, with the deal completed long before it was announced.

Martinelli was supposed to cost around €7.5m but it seems as if Arsenal managed to land him for just over €6m.

Martinelli caught the eye in the Campeonato Paulista, where he scored six goals and assisted three in 14 appearances.

That put him just one goal off the competition’s top scorer and two assists off the top assist provider, despite his young age.

Speaking to the Arsenal site after signing, Martinelli said, “It is a dream since I was a child and also my family’s dream for me to be playing in Europe and playing for a big team like Arsenal. I am going to take this opportunity.”

Gabriel Martinelli factfile

Full name: Gabriel Teodoro Martinelli Silva

Age: 18 (18 June, 2001)

Birthplace: Guarulhos, Brazil

Nationality: Brazilian (but could represent Italy)

Height: 5ft 11 (1.8m)

Shirt number: 35

First contract signed: 2 July, 2019

Signed until: 30 June, 2024

Contract renewal signed: 3 July, 2020

Signed until: 30 June, 2024 with option until 2025

Transfer fee: £6.03m

Initial wages: £1.1m-per-year, £21k-per-week

Current wages: £1.56m-per-year, £30k-per-week

Nickname: Gab

Current value: £25.2m

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Writer. Feminist. Dreamer. Gooner. Owner of DailyCannon.com, writing about Arsenal since 2008. Sometimes found in the Guardian, Vice.com & elsewhere talking queer issues, politics & football. If in doubt, assume sarcasm.