Arsenal: Arteta urges caution over Martinelli's development
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Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta could take advantage of the doubts over the future of his senior strikers to devise a new way of getting Emile Smith Rowe back into his starting XI. Smith Rowe, 21, has arguably been Arsenal’s player of the season so far. But the England international has not started any of the last six Premier League matches.
Only three players have scored more goals than Smith Rowe’s eight in the English top-flight this term.
He has netted three times off the bench in his last five appearances.
But Arteta has settled on a frontline which makes it hard for Smith Rowe to get back in.
Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli more than deserve their spot in the side, with Martin Odegaard starting to prove his potential as the No 10.
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Smith Rowe mainly occupied the left-hand side of attack during the first part of the season.
Martinelli’s performances have prevented him from getting back in.
But doubts over the futures of Arsenal’s strikers could change that.
Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah are both out of contract at the end of the season.
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Lacazette is not happy at the length of the latest offer on the table, whereas Nketiah is keen to keep his options open due to a lack of game time.
Nketiah is more likely to leave than Lacazette this month, with the Frenchman currently skippering the Gunners.
He has replaced Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as captain – and the Gabon star could be on his way as well.
Arsenal will listen to offers for Aubameyang in this window and let him depart if a satisfactory bid comes in.
Arteta could realistically see all three strikers leave the club in the space of the next six months.
But, in Martinelli, they may have a player who can fill one of those voids.
Arsenal are linked with Real Sociedad striker Alexander Isak and Fiorentina sensation Dusan Vlahovic.
There is no doubt that at least one striker will have to be signed if the above trio leave.
But Martinelli has the potential to convert to a central striker.
He played through the middle with some success in cup competitions in his early days at the club under Unai Emery.
Arteta previously described Martinelli as a “centre-forward” in March 2020 but admitted the competition for that position at the time meant he could not play there.
At just 20 years of age, there is plenty of growth and learning for Martinelli to perfect a central role.
But if he can, that would help Smith Rowe’s chances of getting a regular spot back in Arteta’s side.
Because, despite his form this season, he doesn’t quite make Arsenal’s best XI as we speak.
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