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Ronaldinho ‘very excited’ about new Arsenal sensation



The 2002 World Cup winner has tipped his compatriot to break into the Brazil team sooner rather than later at the age of 18

Brazilian football legend Ronaldinho sees similarities between Gabriel Martinelli and Ronaldo as he tipped the Arsenal teenager to take the game by storm.

Martinelli, 18, made the leap from the bottom tier of Brazilian football to the Premier League in the summer when he traded in Ituano for Arsenal.

But he has barely been fazed by the step up in quality, scoring 10 goals in 21 appearances in all competitions to provide one of the few bright spots in a difficult season for the Gunners.

The youngster has become a sensation since running 65 yards to score a delightful equaliser in a 2-2 draw with Chelsea.

Ronaldo too came to prominence at Barcelona with his spectacular strike against Compostela, capping a run that started in his own half.

And for his 2002 World Cup-winning team-mate, comparisons between the pair are not too far-fetched.

“We as Brazilians are very excited about him and his future. It is one thing to have the talent – but another at the age of 18 to have the confidence,” Ronaldinho told the Mirror of his young compatriot.

“He reminds me of Ronaldo his first season in Europe he scored 30 goals and people were thinking: ‘who is this 18 year old Brazilian kid?’

“He wanted the ball, he would run at players, there was no fear no matter what players or team he was playing against – and I see that similar attitude in Martinelli.

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“He just wants to be on the ball and score goals. Ronaldo went on to be the best player in the world – and that can also be the aim of Martinelli.”

Martinelli may yet have to wait to make his Brazil debut, with the South American giants boasting the likes of Neymar, Gabriel Jesus and Roberto Firmino among their forward options.

But Ronaldinho insists that he will be in coach Tite’s plans before too long.

“I am sure that his first Brazil cap is very close – he is ready,” he added.

“Historically the national team has never been concerned with age. Ronaldo was playing for Brazil at 17 – and more recently Neymar and Jesus have played an important role when they were only teenagers.

“If you have the ability and the talent then you will get the chance – and the world can see that he (Martinelli) has the talent.”

The Gunners wonderkid may get another chance to shine on Monday night, when Arsenal take on Bournemouth in the FA Cup fourth round.

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