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Italy Want Arsenal Youngster Gabriel Martinelli To Switch Allegiance From Brazil

Arsenal wonder kid Gabriel Martinelli could be set to be in the middle of an international tug-of-war.

Striker Martinelli has caught the attention of both the Italian and Brazilian FAs after a couple of eye-catching performances for the Gunners in the last two weeks.

The 18-year-old was born in Guarulhos in Brazil but is eligible for Italy through his father – which allowed him to pick up a passport from the European country and qualify for a UK work permit.

Despite being highly rated in his home country, where he previously played for Ituano, Martinelli has not been capped at any national age group.

Italy manager Roberto Mancini was asked about Martinelli’s availability ahead of their clashes with Greece and Lichtenstein during the international break.

“As for Martinelli, it’s not so easy to apply to play for Italy,” the former Manchester City boss said.

“We need to wait for players with two passports. In the meantime, we’ll continue to exchange [Ciro] Immobile with [Andrea] Belotti.”

Martinelli has made four appearances for the Gunners since his move to north London this summer.

He has featured as a substitute in Premier League fixtures against Newcastle and Bournemouth but it has been in cup competitions where he has flourished.

On his first start for the club, Martinelli bagged a brace in the Carabao Cup versus Nottingham Forest before he repeated the feat against Standard Liege in the Europa League.

Martinelli has been utilised in a central role so far at the Emirates – but despite his star showings up front, Arsenal boss Unai Emery reckons the Brazilian is a winger, not a striker.

Emery said: “He prefers to play as a left-winger – he also played as a right-winger. I am using him as a striker because he played in that position in Brazil.

“Striker is not the best position for him. But the first thing in his mind is to help us.”

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