Who is Matheus Martinelli? 19-year-old Brazilian targeted by Arsenal ahead of summer move
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The Brazilian connection
With the arrival of Edu as technical director of Arsenal, much had been expected of the former Invincible to bring a Brazilian edge to the Gunners.
Whilst Gabriel Martinelli was brought in under his tenure, it was revealed that former head scout Francis Cagigao was the man to have found the youngster at Ituano.
Arsenal’s history with Brazilian players is a very mixed record. The likes of Gilberto Silva, Sylvinho and Edu himself all came through the marble halls of Highbury and their qualities were greatly appreciated.
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 21: Edu Arsenal Technical Director chats to Mikel Arteta Arsenal Head Coach before the Premier League match between Everton FC and Arsenal FC at Goodison Park on December 21, 2019 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
More modern times have seen the likes of Denilson, Andre Silva and Gabriel Paulista struggle to emulate their predecessors. But, the recent past has looked much brighter.
Despite initial worries, David Luiz has certainly repaid the £8 million spent and the aforementioned Gabriel Martinelli looks a real talent. Gabriel Magalhaes, signed from Lille, looks to be the centre half Arsenal have needed for some time.
It is therefore unsurprising to see Arsenal linked with further Brazilian talents burgeoning from their homeland as possible summer targets.
Who is Matheus Martinelli?
Seeing the name Martinelli pop up related to Arsenal might make some not bat an eyelid however, pay closer attention and a very different story forms.
Matheus Martinelli, a 19-year-old central midfielder hailing from Fluminense has been credited of catching the eye of the Arsenal recruitment team.
A supposed €40 million release clause would likely be negotiated down to a more reasonable figure but with Manchester United also reportedly keen, the name of Martinelli seems to be attached to some exciting talents indeed.
Matheus though plays a very different role to his namesake at Arsenal. The Fluminense star is situated in a more midfield role and it is unsurprising that Arsenal are targeting players in such an area.
With Dani Ceballos leaving with his loan expiring, Mohamed Elneny’s contract entering its final year and other depth options out on loan, a move for a young midfielder makes sense.
Speaking to The Gooner Talk, Brazilian football expert Euan Marshall described the youngster as a player with great ‘maturity.’ Marshall goes on to say that, “his passing is quite crisp, he seems to be in control. He has the head of a 30-year-old on 19-year-old shoulders.”
“He has these really incisive passes through to the forwards. A lot of long balls which is becoming a bit of a trademark of his.”
Arsenal have seen great success with Thomas Partey’s passing style come to the fore. A great example was shown in the match with Sheffield United. His through ball setting up Alexandre Lacazette for the third goal. Martinelli has this type of direct movement of the ball when in possession.
Statistically the 19-year-old has been very impressive. Playing in a central midfield role, his assets on, with and without the ball show a player with all-round high ability.
Comparing his statistics with on-loan midfielder Dani Ceballos, a Spaniard whose role has dropped back into a hybrid of a 6/8 type under Arteta, allows insight into how close the youngster is to the top level.
Expectantly, he involves himself in a high frequency of defensive duels. Challenging for 8.39 per game and winning 66.8% of them. In comparison to Ceballos’ 7.02 and 53.3% success rate. Even the likes of the starting Granit Xhaka who involves himself in just over 5 defensive duels per match winning 52.6% of them it displays how impressive the Brazilian’s competitiveness in the challenge is.
Looking at how a player loses and recovers the ball can also separate a special talent from the crowd. Seeing a player recover the ball more times than it is lost is a great sign of promise. Martinelli recovers the ball 8.02 times per match in comparison to his 7.02 losses. Something which Ceballos cannot compete with sporting 8.66 losses to 8.07 recoveries.
For context, Granit Xhaka’s impressive 9.25 recoveries far outweigh his 6.48 losses per Premier League match.
On the ball, as described by Euan Marshall, he is a composed figure on the field. 89.5% passing accuracy is on the verge of breaking into the 90% bracket, a feat reserved for some of the word’s most impressive central midfielders.
He is progressive in his play as well. 7.02 passes into the final third and a pass ratio of 13.55 forward passes to 5.5 backward passes per match. Martinelli is a player whose instinct compels him to move the play in an offensive manner.
His dribbling may not be as integrated as Ceballos, a player whose routes lie as more of an attacking midfielder, but he stacks up confidently too as shown below.
It is clear to see why The Gunners have been linked with the youngster. His composure in the middle and eye for a progressive movement is sure to have caught the eye of the Arsenal recruitment team.
Arteta wants his end goal to be a side which dominates possession and looks to bring in his teammates positively. All the while maintaining defensive solidity, recovering the ball and keeping an assured presence in front of the back line.
If possible, it would be a shrewd move by the Gunners to pursue a deal but it is unlikely they will be alone in such a chase.