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Who is Aliko Dangote and does he really stand a chance of ousting Stan Kroenke at Arsenal?

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Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote has been speaking about buying Arsenal for FIVE years… so, who is the cement magnate worth £8.5bn and does he really stand a chance of ousting controversial owner Stan Kroenke?

  • Aliko Dangote promised to oust Stan Kroenke and take over at Arsenal in 2021
  • The ambitious 62-year-old Nigerian boasts a net worth of more than £8.5billion
  • Made his money by founding Dangote Cement, Africa’s largest cement producer
  • Sportsmail discusses whether he could realistically take over from Kroenke

Aliko Dangote certainly got football fans talking on Monday when he outlined his ambitious plans to oust loathed owner Stan Kroenke and take over his beloved Arsenal in 2021.  

The 62-year-old boasts a net worth of more than £8.5billion and made his fortune after founding Dangote Cement, Africa’s largest cement producer – with him also owning stakes in publicly-traded salt, sugar and flour manufacturing companies.

Africa’s richest man had originally promised a takeover bid in 2020 but, with his Dangote Refinery still under construction, he has since moved the date back.

Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote has again outlined his plans to take over at Arsenal

Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote has again outlined his plans to take over at Arsenal

Africa's richest man, who has a net worth of more than £8.5billion, wants to take over in 2021

Africa's richest man, who has a net worth of more than £8.5billion, wants to take over in 2021

Africa’s richest man, who has a net worth of more than £8.5billion, wants to take over in 2021

DANGOTE PROFILE?

  • Dangote – worth more than £8.5billion – made his fortune after founding Dangote Cement, Africa’s largest cement producer 
  • Dangote Cement produces 45.6million metric tons annually and has operations in 10 countries across Europe
  • He also owns stakes in publicly-traded salt, sugar and flour manufacturing companies
  • Dangote Refinery has been under construction for three years – it is expected to be one of the world’s largest oil refineries once complete 

‘It is a team that, yes, I would like to buy some day, but what I keep saying is we have $20billion worth of projects and that’s what I really want to concentrate on,’ Dangote told the David Rubenstein show.

‘I’m trying to finish building the company and then after we finish, maybe some time in 2021 we can.

‘I’m not buying Arsenal right now, I’m buying Arsenal when I finish all these projects, because I’m trying to take the company to the next level.’ 

Arsenal fans have been calling for controversial owner Kroenke to leave the club for years now – with the American rarely visiting the Emirates while they continue to fall further away from the summit of the Premier League.

Here, Sportsmail takes a look at who exactly the Nigerian is, and whether he could realistically oust Kroenke at Arsenal – a club steeped in proud history and tradition – next year…

WHO IS ALIKO DANGOTE? 

Dangote was born in Kano, North West Nigeria, on 10th of April 1957 into a wealthy Muslim family. 

He is the great-grandson of Alhaji Alhassan Dantata, who was the richest West African at the time of his death back in 1955.

And it appears Dangote, just like his family, had an eye for business at a very young age: ”I can remember when I was in primary school, I would go and buy cartons of sweets [candy] and I would start selling them just to make money. 

‘I was so interested in business, even at that time.’

And his eye for making money continued as he went through higher education – he has a bachelor’s degree in business studies and administration from Al-Azhar University, Cairo.

Dangote - who has had long-term interest in Arsenal - had an eye for business at a young age

Dangote - who has had long-term interest in Arsenal - had an eye for business at a young age

Dangote – who has had long-term interest in Arsenal – had an eye for business at a young age

JUST HOW DID HE MAKE ALL HIS MONEY?

After attaining his bachelor’s degree from university, Dangote certainly hasn’t looked back, starting business in 1978 by trading in commodities, before entering into full-scale manufacturing.

And the Nigerian, who is also well-known for his involvement in local and international initiatives to improve healthcare and wellbeing, has since gone on to build an empire at Dangote Cement – where he is founder and chairman. 

He currently owns nearly 85 per cent of publicly-traded Dangote Cement through a holding company. 

It produces 45.6million metric tons annually and has operations in 10 countries across Africa.

But that’s not the only way money continues to flow in for Dangote – he also owns stakes in publicly-traded salt, sugar and flour manufacturing companies.

He has also delved into the oil market with his Dangote Refinery, which has been under construction for three years in Lekki, Nigeria. 

It is expected to be one of the worlds largest oil refineries once complete – it will have a capacity to process about 650,000 barrels per day of crude oil.

He has gone on to build an empire at Dangote Cement, Africa's largest cement producer

He has gone on to build an empire at Dangote Cement, Africa's largest cement producer

He has gone on to build an empire at Dangote Cement, Africa’s largest cement producer

WHAT HAS HE SAID ABOUT ARSENAL IN THE PAST?

What we do know is that it certainly isn’t a rash decision from Dangote to target ownership of Arsenal – he has not been shy in sharing his desire to take over in North London, making several statements down the years about how he will try and temp Kroenke into selling up.

Dangote, who is a massive Arsenal fan, started his long quest to become the superior figure at the Emirates all the way back in 2011.

The 62-year-old revealed he was interested in taking over the 15.9 per cent stake purchased by much-maligned Kroenke nine years ago.

2015 – reveals interest in buying Arsenal

‘There were a couple of us who were rushing to buy, and we thought with the prices then, the people who were interested in selling were trying to go for a kill,’ he said.

‘We backtracked, because we were very busy doing other things, especially our industrialisation. When we get this refinery on track, I will have enough time and enough resources to pay what they are asking for.’

Dangote also gave his thought’s on Arsenal’s business strategy. ‘They are doing well, but they need another strategic direction,’ he said. ‘They need more direction than the current situation, where they just develop players and sell them.’

2016 – on turning Arsenal’s fortunes around

‘It’s not about buying Arsenal and just continuing with business as usual,’ he said.

‘It’s about buying Arsenal and turning it around. I’ve run a very successful business and I think I can also run a very successful team. Right now, with what we’re facing, over $20 billion of projects, I cannot do both.

‘There’s no doubt (I’ll buy Arsenal), It’s not a problem of money. The issue is that we have more challenging headwinds. I need to get those out the way first and start having tailwinds. Then I’ll focus on this.’

The 62-year-old first expressed his interest in the Premier League giants back in 2015

The 62-year-old first expressed his interest in the Premier League giants back in 2015

The 62-year-old first expressed his interest in the Premier League giants back in 2015

2017 – discloses how he would tempt Kroenke family into selling

‘If they get the right offer, I’m sure they would walk away,’ he said. ‘Someone will give them an offer that will make them seriously consider walking away.

‘And when we finish the refinery, I think we will be in a position to do that.

‘I don’t change clubs. Even when Arsenal isn’t doing well I still stick by them.

‘It’s a great team, well-run. It could be run better, so I will be there. I will wait. Even if things change I will take it and make the difference going forward.’

2018 – targets 2020 Emirates takeover

‘We will go after Arsenal from 2020, even if somebody buys, we will still go after it,’ he said.

But speaking to Bloomberg TV, the billionaire also admitted that he could look elsewhere.

‘I’m very attached to Arsenal but if he won’t sell, I might have to change.

‘I’m very much a fan of football. I’ll like to have a club. I don’t have to own Arsenal.

‘By the time we’ve finished [the oil refinery], we’ll be a $30bn [£22.8bn] company in terms of revenue.’ 

Dangote's latest comments regarding the Emirates outfit certainly got Arsenal fans talking

Dangote's latest comments regarding the Emirates outfit certainly got Arsenal fans talking

Dangote’s latest comments regarding the Emirates outfit certainly got Arsenal fans talking

IS A TAKEOVER ACTUALLY REALISTIC?

It’s all well and good having these ambitious desires to take over the team he grew up supporting but we need to take into account Kroenke’s stance on the matter, and there are no signs whatsoever he is willing to relinquish his power. 

Back in August 2018, Kroenke – who has a net worth of £9.7bn, which is £1.2bn more than Dangote – took complete control of Arsenal by paying £550million for Alisher Usmanov’s stake in the club, so why just three years later would he look to sell up?

Throughout his time in North London, Kroenke – who has other ventures that include LA Rams, Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche and Colorado Rapids – has come in for heavy criticism for his passive ownership.

Just last summer Arsenal fans – under the #WeCareDoYou slogan – hit out at Kroenke and his directions for the club after they missed out on Champions League football for a third season running.

But his son Josh, who is director at the club and continues to take on more responsibility in the absence of his father, called for unity at Arsenal before claiming they are desperate to see the glory days return to North London.

‘For me, on a personal level, I’m not sure how to address my passion. Anyone that knows me knows how passionate I am about Arsenal Football Club,’ Josh said. ‘Is it hard to take? Absolutely. But I’m not in this business to make friends, I’m in it to win.

Stan Kroenke (centre) has come in for heavy criticism throughout his time in North London

Stan Kroenke (centre) has come in for heavy criticism throughout his time in North London

Stan Kroenke (centre) has come in for heavy criticism throughout his time in North London

‘If anyone is ever going to question anything about our ownership – which I view as a custodianship, the supporters trust us to be a custodian of the values – that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to win whilst also respecting the values and traditions of the club.

‘I’ve sat down with supporters’ groups. I’ve not been afraid to sit down to have tough conversations with people because I’m transparent, we’re transparent, we don’t have anything to hide.

‘We all want the same thing and we’re all trying aggressively to make it happen. It’s just sometimes our timeline might not be as aggressive as others would like to see.

‘But we’re not going to compromise the values that have kept Arsenal Football Club the way it is for over 130 years.’

The Kroenke family don’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon so a deal for Dangote to take over seems very far-fetched at the moment.

But maybe just maybe, if Arsenal fans continue to protest against their passive owner and Dangote launches an offer which is simply too hard to turn down, the Gunners might soon head in a new direction…



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Man Utd closer to Bruno Fernandes transfer agreement, Arsenal medical, Chelsea, Liverpool

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Sunday, January 26

  • Manchester United and Sporting Lisbon are closing in on a transfer agreement over Bruno Fernandes
  • Tottenham are working around the clock on a permanent deal that would see Gareth Bale return to the club from Real Madrid before this week’s transfer deadline
  • Arsenal are closing in on the signing of Flamengo defender Pablo Mari
  • Chelsea manager Frank Lampard has heaped pressure on the Blues board by stating that the club need to get their ‘short-term recruitment right’ between now and deadline day

Sporting expect Bruno Fernandes deal

Bruno Fernandes is expected to join Manchester United this transfer window by Sporting Lisbon themselves, according to reports. The 25-year-old has been the subject of interest from the Red Devils for most of the month and the saga is showing no sign of slowing up.

United entered talks with Sporting over a deal for Fernandes weeks ago, months after insisting the 25-year-old wasn’t a player in their sights.

It looked as if they were all set to land the Portugal international – before the situation changed.

Sporting raised their asking price for Fernandes and United, despite their obvious need for midfield reinforcements, are yet to take action.

Portuguese newspaper Correio da Manha say, though, that the deal is back on.

Sporting chief Frederico Varandas is now expecting the transfer to go through and even has a specific fee in mind.

Varandas is said to believe that United will up their transfer offer for Fernandes, meaning Sporting would pocket £50million up front and a further £9m in add-ons.

As things stand they’re just £5m apart on any deal but Sporting believe that, come the end of the January transfer window, the player will have departed.

Should that happen, that would make the 25-year-old one of the most-expensive players in United’s history.

Transfer news LIVE: Man Utd want Bruno Fernandes (Image: GETTY)

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer stance on Man Utd sack

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer doesn’t think the Glazers will give him three years before winning a trophy, according to reports. The Red Devils are in FA Cup action against Tranmere today, a tournament that now seems to represent one of their best chances of winning silverware.

United boss Solskjaer has overseen a difficult campaign at Old Trafford, with the club’s fall from grace showing no signs of slowing up.

The Red Devils have lost three of their last four matches across all competitions, with Wednesday’s 2-0 defeat to Burnley at home a particularly low moment.

Solskjaer has pleaded for United fans to be patient, with supporters venting their frustrations at the Glazers and Ed Woodward during the loss to Sean Dyche’s side.

And the Daily Mail say that, privately, he doesn’t think the Glazers will give him three years without winning a trophy before sacking him.

Man Utd make improved Bruno Fernandes bid

Manchester United have upped their offer for Bruno Fernandes, according to a report in Portugal. United held face-to-face talks with Sporting Lisbon over two weeks ago in London but the clubs have not been able to agree on a fee for the midfielder.

United had their opening bid rejected by Sporting and have been working on a new agreement since.

There have been contrasting reports as to the value of that initial offer but Portuguese newspaper O Jogo claimed it was £38million (€45m) plus £12.7m (€15m) in add-ons.

Earlier in the week the publication reported that United agreed to up their lump sum to £42m (€50) after talks with Fernandes’ agent Miguel Pinho.

But O Jogo now state that United have given in again and will formally table a £46m (€55m) bid with the same incentives.

The weekend is said to have been a decisive time in discussions between the two clubs with an ‘important step’ taken towards sealing a deal.

Transfer news LIVE

Transfer news LIVE: Man Utd could sack Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (Image: GETTY)

Leeds deal backed

Danny Murphy has urged Leeds to sign Sheffield United striker Billy Sharp in order to clinch promotion to the Premier League.

Leeds have relied heavily on first-choice frontman Patrick Bamford to fire them to the Championship’s top-end this season and Murphy reckons Sharp would be the perfect addition.

And Murphy sent a message to Leeds chiefs on Match of the Day, saying: “It could be the difference of getting a team up from the Championship.

“He wouldn’t have to move house, which is a problem for players, and he was there a couple of years ago. Go get him. Give him a call.”

Transfer news LIVE

Transfer news LIVE: Arsenal are keen to bolster their back four (Image: GETTY)

Man Utd’s Bruno Fernandes worry

Manchester United co-chairman Joel Glazer has doubts over Bruno Fernandes’ asking price. The Red Devils are hoping to sign the Sporting Lisbon star before Friday’s transfer deadline.

United and Sporting have been locked in talks, with negotiations stalling over the asking price for the 25-year-old attacking midfielder.

It’s understood the Red Devils are not willing to pay more than £50million plus £15m in add-ons for the Portugal international.

However, Sporting want £68m for the player plus add ons, a fee United are not prepared to match.

And according to The Sun, United co-chairman Joel Glazer doesn’t value Fernandes at £68m.

The American, who signs off all the club’s transfers, doesn’t want the Red Devils to overpay for Fernandes before Friday’s transfer deadline.

Transfer news LIVE

Transfer news LIVE: Arsenal are keen to spend (Image: GETTY)

Man Utd make Edinson Cavani offer

Manchester United had an offer to sign Edinson Cavani from Paris Saint-German rejected by the Uruguayan striker, who would rather join Atletico Madrid, despite interest from Chelsea as well.

According to Soccer Link, however, United have made an offer to Cavani which would see him be paid £10million-a-year at Old Trafford.

They’ve also added a £2.5m signing bonus onto a potential deal, but Cavani isn’t interested.

The report states that Cavani still wants to move to Atletico, who have an agreement in place with the striker.

Transfer news LIVE

Transfer news LIVE: Chelsea could sell Giroud (Image: GETTY)

PSG open Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang talks

Arsenal forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been approached by Paris Saint-German over a potential move to the Ligue 1 champions as a replacement for outgoing striker Edinson Cavani.

Under a week remains in the January transfer window, making a move to PSG unlikely, but if Cavani leaves, Aubameyang would become PSG’s top target, according to FootMercato.

They are reporting that Aubameyang’s camp have met with PSG to discuss a potential loan move until the end of the season, with an option to buy.

Cavani, whose contract is up in the summer is eager to leave PSG, with the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and Atletico Madrid linked with his signature.

Transfer news LIVE

Transfer news LIVE: Liverpool are keen to spend (Image: GETTY)

Man Utd still want Emre Can

Manchester United are still keen on doing a deal for Juventus and German international Emre Can before the transfer window closes, Express Sport understands.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is looking to strengthen his midfield with Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay out injured.

United were linked with Can earlier this month but his Liverpool connections were reportedly putting the German off a move to Old Trafford.

Solskjaer has not given up on a deal for the German midfielder though.

The United boss earlier this week confirmed the club were looking to get a couple of deals over the line still.

Transfer news LIVE

Transfer news LIVE: Man Utd want Bruno Fernandes (Image: GETTY)

Mino Raiola on Paul Pogba leaving Man Utd

Paul Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola has once again hinted his client could be on his way out of Manchester United.

Juventus fans should dream, like those around the world, because if you don’t dream you’re dead,” Raiola said when asked about the possibility of his client moving.

“I don’t work in dreams, but I try to make the right choices at the right time with my players to advance their career.

“Now to say that Pogba leaves Manchester United to go to Juventus to Real or Barcelona is not the right time.

Transfer news LIVE

Transfer news LIVE: Man Utd are keen to spend (Image: GETTY)

Bruno Fernandes to Man Utd update

Manchester United and Sporting Lisbon agree on the add-ons to be included in a potential transfer for Bruno Fernandes.

Portuguese outlet Correio da Manha say the clubs cannot agree on the basic transfer fee for the attacking midfielder.

However, they both agree about the bonuses. With Sporting demanding £8.4m (€10m) and United willing to pay up.

United are hoping to land Fernandes before the transfer window shuts on Friday night.

Transfer news LIVE

Transfer news LIVE: Jose Mourinho is keen to spend (Image: GETTY)

Gareth Bale to Tottenham EXCLUSIVE

Tottenham are working around the clock on a permanent deal that would see Gareth Bale return to the club from Real Madrid before this week’s transfer deadline.

Spurs boss Jose Mourinho is keen to sign at least three players before the transfer window closes with Benfica’s Gedson Fernandes the only new arrival so far this month.

But a deal for the Welsh superstar, 30, will be challenging to complete with his £650,000 a week contract which runs until June 2022 one of the biggest obstacles.

A loan deal for Bale who Real have been trying to offload for the last 12 months has been ruled out, but the two clubs are discussing a permanent switch.

Transfer news LIVE

Transfer news LIVE: Arsenal are closing in on the signing of Flamengo defender Pablo Mari (Image: GETTY)

Pablo Mari to Arsenal close

Arsenal are closing in on the signing of Flamengo defender Pablo Mari.

The 25-year-old has arrived at Heathrow Airport ahead of completing a move to the Emirates this month.

Reports emerged late on Friday that Mari had agreed a switch to Arsenal from Brazilian side Flamengo. And now the centre-back has landed in London ahead of his medical, which is set to take place this weekend.

Mari arrived at Heathrow with Arsenal technical director Edu, who flew with him from Rio de Janeiro.

When asked if he was excited to be joining Arsenal, Mari said: “Yeah of course”.

Transfer news LIVE

Transfer news LIVE: Tottenham are working around the clock on a permanent deal for Gareth Bale (Image: GETTY)

Frank Lampard demands Chelsea signings

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard has heaped pressure on the Blues board by stating that the club need to get their ‘short-term recruitment right’ between now and deadline day.

He said: ”There is no movement to speak of now. We got a punishment in the summer and it is meant to hurt you. We lost one of the biggest players in our history in Eden Hazard.

“That is the situation. My job is to work every day on the training ground to make the players better. We lost ground last summer and we need to make moves now to take us forward.

“The money of it is not my job but I have to be honest and truthful. Short term recruitment is something we have to get right.”

James Maddison to Liverpool or Man City?

Leicester playmaker James Maddison should ignore a move to Manchester United in the summer and instead hold it out for a side more stylistically suited to his way of playing, such as Liverpool or Manchester City, ESPN pundit Steve Nicol claims.

“Under normal circumstances this would be kind of a no brainer, somebody like him, playing at a provincial side shall we call them in Leicester City,” Nicol told ESPN FC while discussing the chances of Maddison going to Old Trafford.

“The big guns of Manchester United come calling for you and it’s only a matter of, can the two clubs sort it out financially? That’s what used to happen.

“The bottom line is, is it going to benefit this guy going to United right now? I don’t think it would. I think it would help him to keep playing in the way he has at Leicester.

“The way Leicester play suits his game and in fact the way they play is a lot closer to what the likes of City and Liverpool do, than what the likes of United do.

“I’d suggest if I’m him, I hang around and wait. Wait for a Liverpool or a Manchester City.

“Because right now, going to Man United, I think is pulling people under. I think for his game, it’s not going to help him going to Man United.

“If Paul Pogba can go to Man United and his game suffers, with the experience he has, why wouldn’t it happen to James Maddison?”

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[Image] No Lacazette or Ozil: How Arsenal should line-up vs Bournemouth

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dani ceballos arsenal

Arsenal take on Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium in the FA Cup on Monday evening. Here is the line-up I’d like Mikel Arteta to select…

Holding to start

Rob Holding has been eased back into action slowly since returning from his knee injury but this is a great opportunity for him to get some much-needed minutes under his belt. He was superb before his injury and we could certainly do with Holding getting back to that sort of form soon.

David Luiz is suspended but Sokratis is available again after recovering from illness so I’d start Holding alongside the Greek international and consign Shkodran Mustafi to the bench where he belongs.

Hector Bellerin made an impressive comeback against Chelsea but I would give Ainsley Maitland-Niles a run out tomorrow. Sead Kolasinac and Kieran Tierney remain on the sidelines so teenage winger Bukayo Saka will once again deputise at left-back.

Ceballos given chance

There are widespread rumours circulating that Dani Ceballos is pushing to leave the club this month after struggling for game-time recently. He’s only just returned from a lengthy injury so I’m not sure what his issue really is but I’d be gutted to see him leave. Ceballos showed what he’s capable of against Burnley and we need him to produce that kind of performance on a regular basis.

Rob Holding arsenal 2019

I think this is a good chance to give Ceballos a start and play him in his best position in a midfield three. Hopefully he can rediscover some form and boost his confidence which may persuade him to see out the remainder of his loan.

Arsenal have very little left to play for in the league as the top four is realistically gone so we need to take the FA Cup seriously. However, we also need to give fringe players some game-time so it’s a balancing act for Arteta to deal with.

I hope we keep Lucas Torreira in the side as this will be a tricky away game at Bournemouth and we need his presence in front of the defence. Matteo Guendouzi’s form has dropped dramatically recently so I’d stick with Granit Xhaka tomorrow.

Martinelli starts

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will serve the final game of his three-match ban so Gabriel Martinelli should get another start and hopefully he can continue his excellent form following his superb goal against Chelsea last week.

Reiss Nelson is out for a few weeks with a hamstring injury so Nicolas Pepe will continue on the right-wing and we really need a performance from him tomorrow as his form has been so inconsistent.

Mesut Ozil can get a rest with Ceballos starting while I’d also give Eddie Nketiah a start. Arsenal have decided he’s not leaving on loan so he needs minutes and this is a good opportunity for him to show what he can do.

Alexandre Lacazette has been struggling for goals and maybe he could do with a breather, so I’d stick him on the bench tomorrow night.

Here is how I hope Arsenal line-up:

football formations



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Mikel Arteta downplays emergence of Gabriel Martinelli with Arsenal boss keen not to burden teenager

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‘For him there is still a long way’: Mikel Arteta downplays emergence of Gabriel Martinelli… with Arsenal manager keen not to burden teenager with added pressure

  • Gabriel Martinelli scored his 10th goal of the season against Chelsea on Tuesday
  • Martinelli has stepped up to the plate in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s absence
  • But Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta insists the 18-year-old still has a long way to go

Mikel Arteta is eager for Arsenal attacker Gabriel Martinelli to continue developing in the same way and warned not to burden the teenager with unnecessary pressure.

The 18-year-old scored in the 2-2 draw at Chelsea on Tuesday, racing clear from inside his own half before showing great composure to find the net.

It was Martinelli’s 10th goal of the campaign and made him the first teenager to reach double figures in a season for Arsenal since Nicolas Anelka.

Gabriel Martinelli is in red-hot form after scoring from inside his own half against Chelsea

Gabriel Martinelli is in red-hot form after scoring from inside his own half against Chelsea 

Mikel Arteta has been impressed with Martinelli but says there is still a long way to go for him

Mikel Arteta has been impressed with Martinelli but says there is still a long way to go for him

Mikel Arteta has been impressed with Martinelli but says there is still a long way to go for him

GABRIEL MARTINELLI IN 2019-20 

  • Appearances: 21
  • Goals: 10
  • Assists: 3
  • Yellow cards: 2

Statistics according to Transfermarkt 

After signing from Ituano in the summer, there was little expectation on the forward, but he has emerged as a real plus point and recently filled the void of the suspended Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang by netting in the Gunners last two matches.

‘I would like to talk about potential, more than what it is at the moment because for him there is still a long way,’ Arteta said.

‘The stature of this club, to give him the key to do that straight away is not fair on him. We have to bring him down.

‘I want him to train with his head down every day hard and slowly he will start to earn the praise if he does what he needs to do every day, but it is not about one or two days.’

Head coach Arteta admitted he was surprised by how prepared Martinelli was to compete in the first-team when he first took over last month.

The Spaniard had been told plenty of positive traits about his fighting spirit and quality in front of goal, which quickly were rubber-stamped and the teen is expected to start again in the FA Cup at Bournemouth on Monday.

The Arsenal manager talks to the 18-year-old in training this week at London Colney

The Arsenal manager talks to the 18-year-old in training this week at London Colney

The Arsenal manager talks to the 18-year-old in training this week at London Colney 

Arteta added: ‘I heard a lot of things about Gabi before I joined and the moment I saw (him) in training, it was confirmed the things I was told before.

‘I think the way he competes and how brave he is in every decision on that pitch is very unusual for an 18-year-old.

‘He competed against one of the best defenders in the league, in (Cesar) Azpilicueta, and he got at him every time he had a chance. His fighting spirit is incredible and then he is a threat for goal every time.’

Asked if Martinelli’s form was so good it would make recalling Aubameyang difficult, the 37-year-old disagreed, but he did admit the young striker currently deserves to remain in the team due to his recent performances.

What Arteta is worried by, however, is supporters and others at the club expecting the Brazil Under-23 international to consistently deliver displays like he did against Chelsea.

Martinelli impressed in the 2-2 draw at Chelsea in midweek, scoring Arsenal's first goal

Martinelli impressed in the 2-2 draw at Chelsea in midweek, scoring Arsenal's first goal

Martinelli impressed in the 2-2 draw at Chelsea in midweek, scoring Arsenal’s first goal 

‘That is the risk and not just him, but all of us and me included and the club and the people around him,’ Arsenal’s head coach insisted.

‘We have to support him and protect him. We cannot just give him the license to think he can do that every single day and he needs to do that and put himself under that pressure when he can maybe get blocked a little bit.

‘It is completely the opposite. He needs to play with that freedom where he has the license to do what he wants to do on the pitch, but with the pressure really that it doesn’t always have to be him to do it.’



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