Gabriel Martinelli has opened up on his journey to Arsenal after revealing both Manchester United and Barcelona passed up the chance to sign him.
The Gunners splashed out £6million on the 21-year-old from Brazilian fourth-tier outfit Ituano in 2019.
And after multiple injury setbacks, the youngster is now one of the first names on the team sheet having become a key player under Mikel Arteta.
He has helped fire the north London outfit to the top of the Premier League table having chipped in with five goals and two assists in 14 matches.
His fine form also saw him earn a place in Brazil’s World Cup squad for Qatar.
Speaking to the Player’s Tribune, he said: “I thank God that I came to Arsenal in 2019.
“I really believe that things happen for a reason, and I’m so happy here. It’s funny to look back now, because I could so easily have ended up somewhere else.
“There was a project with Manchester United. I did some trials there. It didn’t work out but I went there four or five times.
“Manchester United had some scouts in Brazil and then they saw me playing. They had a meeting with my father and then it worked out.
“Then there was this time I met [Paul] Pogba. Ibra [Zlatan Ibrahimovic] was there another time when I was a little older, I think it was the third or fourth trial.
“That was a project for when I turned 18. If they really wanted to, I would move. We saw that.
“But when I turned 17 – that was the last time I went to Manchester – I went back to Brazil and they said they didn’t want me, so that was it. I would come home to practice.
“I think it was very important for me, even though I got a ‘no’. But it was very important to know how football works [in England], how things are.
“So when I came permanently to Arsenal, I think I was a little more used to it. I knew how things were here and I knew a little about the culture too.
“Since I was young I had this project with Manchester United, so in my head I was a bit like, ‘hey, I’m going to Manchester, regardless, when I turn 18’.
“Then when you reach the age, in the year you are 17, the guy says, ‘hey, we don’t want this anymore’. I said, ‘hey, what am I going to do now?’”
Martinelli then revealed he trained at Barcelona’s famed academy La Masia alongside Ansu Fati, who is considered one of Spain’s top talents.
He added: “The at the end of the year, I went to La Masia in Barcelona.
“I practised with Ansu Fati when I went there. We became friends and I stayed there for 15 days.
“The it didn’t work out eight, they didn’t want me. That was easier to accept, because it was just one trial.
“But for or five months later, Arsenal signed me.”
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