Youth is precocious at the best of times.
We’ve all seen how supremely talented kids make a splash of a varying amount of ripples and before you know it, there’s no trace of them. Blink and you’ll miss it. When you open your eyes again, they’re farmed out and plying their trade in the lower leagues.
Sometimes it’s the coach who can’t trust enough. Sometimes it’s the player who just isn’t dedicated enough. And often it’s the fault of agents who whisper in their charges ear about demanding game time and how they’re far better than their current situation.
But injury is a big cause of a vibrant, promising career plummeting down from prominence. And not just because of the injury itself. Of course, players need the right mindset to overcome such a frustrating time in their career. But when they get injured, they also fall out of the reckoning, a place they’ve fought so hard to reach. To not only battle back to fitness, but to also get back to where they were?
That demands some true grit. It also takes a special type of person. A kid who is selfless toward their goals. One who puts football above everything,
Gabriel Martinelli’s first season was one that turned heads. From his goalscoring exploits in the Europa League, his breakaway equalising goal against Chelsea and his overall displays, it was abundantly clear we had something special on our hands. We demanded to see more of him. After all, age is just a number.
But injury struck just as Martinelli was beginning to get the minutes his development needed. And so, the young Brazilian was out of action for a prolonged amount of time. With the right doctors and rehabilitation, Martinelli came back – but since then, we haven’t yet seen that spark that made him one of the highest rated teenage talents in the Premier League.
Sure, Martinelli went to the Olympics and won gold. He was trusted by his coach, Andre Jardine to a degree, but wasn’t exactly a critical member of the squad. Good experience nonetheless.
But the boy from Sao Paolo hasn’t come close to lighting up the stage like he did in his first season.
And that now means that he has lost what made him special.
Apparently, according to some on social media.
When did we stop understanding? When did we halt taking into account other factors? The boy is still only 20. And coming back from injury is a tough thing to do, especially that last five percent that equates to sharpness on the pitch.
Then you have to consider how many players the kid is vying with to get any minutes. Aubameyang, Lacazette, ESR, Saka, Balogun, Eddie. Martinelli will have to really turn it on during training in order to show Arteta he is worthy of minutes.
Or perhaps, he isn’t ready – would that be the worst thing?
Instead of trying to give aa few minutes here and there, why not send the kid on loan and really allow him to stretch his legs. To build himself back up so when he returns, he can be that member of the squad we can look to in order to make an impact.
Martinelli needs gametime and trust, both from Mikel Arteta and from us in the stands.
That special player is still there he just needs to play.