Mikel Arteta has heaped praise upon teenage star Gabriel Martinelli, as the striker continues to impress since breaking through at Arsenal.
The Brazilian, 18, is fast becoming a fan favourite at the Emirates Stadium having netted 10 goals thus far in his debut season at the club.
Martinelli’s form has led to a succession of plaudits coming his way from high-profile personalities within the game, with Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp labelling him “a talent of the century” and compatriot Ronaldinho drawing comparisons with World Cup winner Ronaldo.
Martinelli, who signed for Arsenal last summer from Ituano in Sau Paulo, is currently with the squad in Dubai, where they have marked their first Premier League winter break with a warm-weather training camp.
Speaking on Monday at Nad Al Sheba Sports Complex, Arteta said he has been hugely impressed with Martinelli ever since he succeeded as manager Unai Emery in late December.
“For me, the biggest one is his hunger, his attitude and his willingness,” the Spaniard said. “And after that, obviously, he is a threat in front of goal. He can finish, he can run in behind, he's a fighter.
“But his biggest attribute is his personality. He doesn't care what type of game it is. He just wants to win and do his best every single day in training and in games."
Asked if he was aware of Martinelli before taking the reigns at Arsenal, Arteta said: “I was, but it's different when you know him personally and find the right reasons why he's doing what he's doing at his age. It's a consequence.”
A former club captain, Arteta was appointed only seven-and-a-half weeks ago, with the team winning three of his first nine matches. However, they have lost only once.
Arsenal in Dubai
Arsenal lie 10th in the Premier League after 26 matches, 10 points off the top four.
Understandably, Arteta was cautious about whether his side could still qualify for next season's Uefa Champions League.
“I want to go game by game,” he said. “At the moment we are far from it, but there’s still a lot of games to play, it’s very tight, a lot of teams are giving points away. It’s going to depend on everything; if we’re able to put three or four wins together in a row we will be much closer.”
On what’s surprised him most in his new role, Arteta said: “The biggest surprise and the nicest surprise is the input from the players, how much they’re buying into what we’re trying to do, the effort they’re putting, the willingness.
"And they seem ready, with the right commitment and the right energy, to move forward.”