Arsenal starlet Gabriel Martinelli has revealed that Chelsea star Jorginho tried to tempt him into playing for Italy rather than Brazil at international level. The revelation comes after the 20-year-old received his first ever senior call-up for the Seleção.
The recognition of the winger’s form comes as little surprise, having scored five and assisted four in all competitions this season for the Gunners. The Brazilian isn’t just getting in the goals though, with his direct and tricky style causing problems for even the best in the Premier League this season.
Martinelli has come in for a lot of praise too, with Mikel Arteta singling him out ahead of the Leicester clash: “Well, Gabi [Gabriel Martinelli] is playing in a different position because Auba [Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang], certainly in the last few months played as a nine, but Gabi has shown big signs of where he’s moving, certainly the capacity that he has to score goals and be a threat in the final third and I think his contribution all round in his game has been exceptional. So, I think he totally deserves the amount of minutes that he’s been playing.”
The winger has now joined up with Brazil’s senior squad for the first time during the March international break, having won gold with the football side at the Olympics in Japan. However, he could have also represented Italy on the international stage due to his dual Brazil-Italian citizenship.
None of the officials from the Italian side discussed the opportunity with Martinelli, but he reveals that Jorginho tried to tempt him in an interview with Globo : “No player spoke to me, only Jorginho once said ‘I hope to see you in March’, something like that, but no one spoke to me, no.”
Despite this attempt from the Chelsea midfielder, who helped guide Italy to Euro 2020 success over England at Wembley, the Arsenal forward claims he was always waiting to play for Brazil. “As I’ve said before, my dream was to play for Brazil, I was just waiting for the opportunity to play for Brazil.”
One thing for sure is that he’ll be hopeful of receiving his debut in his nation’s colours when they face Chile on Thursday in a World Cup qualifier.