The Italian Football Federation have spoken to Arsenal youngster Gabriel Martinelli about the possibility of switching international allegiances from Brazil, his country of birth.
The 18-year-old is eligible to represent the Azzurri through his father, despite being born in the state of Sao Paolo. Italy coach Roberto Mancini has been keeping a watchful eye on Martinelli’s progression, with the attacker yet to play for the Seleção senior side.
Arsenal purchased Martinelli from Brazilian club Ituano in a £6m deal last summer, with the teenager hitting four goals in his first four games for the Gunners.
Goal report that his promising form at the Emirates Stadium has led to an approach from Italian football’s governing body, though the player in question is yet to decide which nation he wishes to pledge himself to.
When asked about the prospect of Martinelli turning out for the Azzurri, manager Mancini indicated he was open to having the forward around once he has filled out the necessary paperwork.
At his press conference before his country’s match against Greece on Saturday, the 54-year-old explained (as quoted by Football Italia): “It’s not so easy to apply to play for Italy. We need to wait for players with two passports.”
The presence of Edu – who is the assistant of Brazil boss Tite – in the Arsenal boardroom could sway Martinelli in favour of the South Americans. However, he will not be rushed into making a hasty decision, instead leaving his options open as he weighs up an important dilemma.
Unai Emery has likewise chosen to gradually ease Martinelli into the Arsenal first-team, playing him in the 5-0 EFL Cup thrashing of Nottingham Forest, as well as the Gunners’ 4-0 victory over Standard Liege in the Europa League on Thursday.
The forward hit a brace in both fixtures, though he is yet to receive his first start in the Premier League.
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