Gabriel Agbonlahor thinks Arsenal should play Gabriel Martinelli as their No. 9, suggesting he could play a similar role to legendary forward Thierry Henry.
With one look at the Arsenal squad, everyone will point towards the glaring need for a new striker. Following the exit of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in January, the Gunners have been laid bare in the area, with Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah their only senior options. Next summer, the duo might leave the club when their contracts expire.
Mikel Arteta is certainly looking for a new striker or two, depending on the budget and other recruitments ideas the manager might have. They have been linked with Napoli’s Victor Osimhen, among other players such as Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Alexander Isak and Jonathan David. However, some sections insist Gabriel Martinelli could be the answer.
The Brazilian forward has come into the spotlight this season as he has become Arteta’s preferred starter on the left side of the attack. The position is similar to the one Aubameyang used to take up during Arteta’s early days as a manager. Martinelli has enjoyed some success from the left side as he continues his growth in the team.
Time and again, fans and pundits alike have insisted Martinelli be played more centrally rather than from a wide zone. While Arteta has started the Brazilian at times from the middle, the results have not been exactly great. However, with the player maturing further, the manager could field him in a game or two this season.
The Gunners have plenty of wide players in Bukayo Saka, Nicolas Pepe and Emile Smith Rowe, meaning Arteta can certainly afford to play Martinelli centrally. Furthermore, there is talk of Arsenal being interested in signing Rafael Leao, which might indicate Martinelli occupying a central role next season.
Former Aston Villa striker Gabriel Agbonlahor has now suggested the Gunners should use Martinelli’s powers centrally. He told Football Insider that Arteta should use him in a role similar to how Thierry Henry played at the club during their peak.
The former England international said, “He looks like that sort of number nine who will drift out wide from the centre and make runs behind defenders and be a menace. He can finish too. I think he’s got everything to be a number nine. Then you can fit Nicolas Pepe on one wing and Bukayo Saka on the other. It definitely works, for me.”
“Lacazette doesn’t offer enough agility and speed to play as Arsenal’s number nine at the moment. Martinelli can be like Henry and Henry did it all. I don’t see why Martinelli can start in the centre and drift out wide. He’s got it all as a centre-forward.”
Since joining Arsenal in 2019, Martinelli has made 70 appearances, scoring 16 goals and registering nine assists. Recent reports have indicated that the Brazilian has been training to play through the middle. It will be interesting to see whether Arteta decides to deploy him as a No. 9 in the upcoming games and if so, how the 20-year-old performs may have an impact on the Gunners’ transfer plans.