Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has urged Gabriel Martinelli to ‘keep working’ after he was an unused substitute in the 3-1 league win over Leicester City at the King Power Stadium on Sunday.
The Brazilian is regarded as one of the best young talents at the club but has struggled for regular playing time since returning after knee surgery earlier in the campaign.
Martinelli started the Boxing Day clash against Chelsea where the Gunners revived their faltering season with an impressive 3-1 league triumph at the Emirates Stadium.
He played for an hour of the next game at Brighton & Hove Albion but has since struggled for minutes in the league due to the competition for places.
The 19-year-old has been restricted to only 53 minutes of league football since the turn of the year and has not got off the bench in the past five matches.
Arteta rotated his attacking options at the King Power Stadium with Willian, Nicolas Pepe and Alexandre Lacazette getting the nod.
Lacazette was brought off during the final stages of the game, but it was captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who replaced him rather than Martinelli.
Following the victory, Arteta was asked about Martinelli’s recent absence to which he responded by stating that he needs to keep working on the training pitch.
He told Arsenal.com: “Well, he needs to keep working and making it difficult for us. He is a player that is going to give us a lot, but we need some time to find the right games for him and the right connections with him on the pitch so that he can do what he does best.”
“But the way he is and the way he trains every day, he is going to be a really important player for us, no doubt. But when you have many options, it is difficult when you look for certain qualities in certain games.”
Alongside Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe, Martinelli is regarded by many Arsenal fans to have a bright future with the club.
The Brazilian had an impressive debut campaign last term with 10 goals and four assists before sustaining a long-term knee injury.
Willian, who was largely out-of-favour, made his mark against the Foxes by playing a part in all three goals scored on Sunday.
It is unlikely that Martinelli may return to the starting line-up anytime soon, but he will be hoping to grab his chance off the bench.
The former Ituano graduate committed to a fresh four-year deal last summer with the option for another 12 months.
Arteta is aware of the potential of Martinelli but, as things stand, he may have to stay patient with his teammates making the most of their opportunities.
Stats from Transfermarkt.com