Manchester United Had Gabriel Martinelli On Trial Four Times Before Saying No
In the space of just over six months, Arsenal's in-form striker Gabriel Martinelli has gone from playing in the Italian fourth division with Ituano, to becoming the highest scoring teenager across Europe's top five leagues.
The 18-year-old, who signed a long-term contract with The Gunners in July last year, is quickly becoming a fan favourite at the Emirates after another impressive performance on Tuesday night.
Martinelli netted his 10th goal of the season against Chelsea after running from his own box to score a sensational individual effort.
It was another landmark moment for the Guarulhos-born striker as he continues to make a real statement in the Premier League under Mikel Arteta, but things could have been very different for the Brazilian-born forward.
Martinelli has revealed he spent two months on trial at Manchester United, where he joined up with the club "four times for around 15 days at a time" when Jose Mourinho was in charge.
He even played in a friendly against Lincoln City, where he played the final 30 minutes of the game alongside the likes of Brandon Williams.
Martinelli getting off a bus with the United u18s a couple years ago. This ones gonna haunt them forever:joy::red_circle::white_circle: pic.twitter.com/jbSXzs59Qj
- ArsenalGoals (@ArsenalGoaIs) September 29, 2019
The teenager was pictured on numerous occasions in the United kit, and even took pictures with the likes of Paul Pogba and Marouane Fellaini in the Carrington training facility.
"From 2015 to 2017, I went to train there [at United] four times for around 15 days at a time," he told ESPN Brasil.
"As everyone trains at the same training centre and is in the same cafeteria, I saw all the professionals.
"I asked to take pictures for [Patrice] Evra, [Marouane] Fellaini and others. [Paul] Pogba knew I was Brazilian and asked if everything was OK and where I played. We took a picture together."
REMINDER: Martinelli had FOUR trials at Man United before Arsenal signed him pic.twitter.com/Xn4HXy3ztd
- talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) January 21, 2020
Martinelli commented on how "super humble" Pogba was when he spent time in Manchester, and mentioned how important those trials were for his overall development.
"There was a project between Ituano and Manchester United, and they always took a player. And I always came for these trip.
"I could neither speak English nor French, but he [Pogba] said 'tudo bem' (a common Portuguese greeting) and took the picture with me nicely, he was super humble.
"Those training days were super important for me to adapt to the style of play, the players and how fast the game is here."
Despite being at Old Trafford for a lengthy period, United decided against signing him.
But now the youngster is flourishing in North London, something former defender Martin Keown spoke about after last night's game against Chelsea.
Keown even took a dig at Manchester United after they failed to offer Martinelli a deal.
'That young man, he has the club in the palm of his hands,' he via The Daily Mail.
"He can take it wherever he wants. He was the youngest player on the pitch out there for Arsenal and he showed the experienced players how it was done.
"I was here in '99 when Kanu scored three goals and that looked dead and buried tonight when they were 1-0 down.
"He really is absolutely outstanding. He was certain he was going to put it away (his goal).
"His instinct for goal, his movement off the ball, show me another 18-year-old in Europe doing this? Manchester United had him on trial and didn't take him... that raises questions."