Alan Smith believes Gabriel Martinelli is ready to play up front for Arsenal following Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s departure.
The Gabon star terminated his contract with the Gunners last night and is officially a free agent now. It looks like he will complete his move to Barcelona imminently and that’s the best thing for all parties involved.
Aubameyang’s exit has left Arsenal extremely short in attack. The Gunners only have Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah as natural strikers now, which could prove to be costly in the business end of the season.
Smith, who knows a thing or two about being a striker, has urged Mikel Arteta to give Martinelli a go up top.
Alan Smith: Gabriel Martinelli could emulate Thierry Henry at Arsenal
Speaking about the 20-year-old, Smith said: “It might just be Martinelli’s time.
“So far, he has been given a chance on the left and he has taken that chance. In order to be given an opportunity to play through the middle you have got to show you are in good form, you are fully fit and you are playing with confidence. He has done that so this could be a good time to move him inside.
“There is precedence there, famously Thierry Henry started on the wing and moved into the striker position to great effect.
“It is certainly an option for Arteta and one he should not be afraid to have a look at.
The Insider’s View:
Martinelli played up front under Unai Emery in his debut season and he was absolutely incredible. He even scored a couple of goals against Liverpool at Anfield while playing as the striker, which is not an easy thing to do for a teenager.
However, for Arteta to use Martinelli up top, he’ll have to change his system.
The way Arsenal play at the moment requires the striker to drop deep and link play up. Alexandre Lacazette has been playing that role and he has done that job fairly well. Martinelli, however, is not that player.
The Brazilian thrives when he has space to run in behind. That is why Arteta has preferred him on the left flank, but if the Arsenal boss can find a way to play him more centrally, he could become a real star there as well.
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