Gabriel Martinelli has confirmed that Arsenal blocked him from joining Brazil’s under-23 for the Olympic qualification tournament which is currently taking place in Colombia.
Martinelli, also of Italian decent, was apparently eager to represent his country but accepted the Gunners decision to stop him from going.
“I said that if it was up to me I would play,” he told UOL (translated by Sport Witness).
“We already knew it would be difficult. It was a time when I was starter at Arsenal, and people preferred not to let me go.”
So far Brazil seem to be coping well without Martinelli. They’ve won all four of their opening group games and will face Argentina, Colombia and Uruguay in a second group stage. Only the top two will secure a place in Tokyo.
If they do qualify and Martinelli gets selected for the tournament proper, it means he’ll likely miss pre-season with Arsenal and the opening games of the new campaign.
A call-up to Brazil’s senior side could also be on the cards. Having arrived in England under the radar, his recent exploits have suddenly earned him praise and attention from those in right places.
It is only a matter of time before the Brazil national side give him a call-up.