Rio Ferdinand left dumbfounded at Arsenal in huge praise for Mikel Arteta – ‘It’s a joke’

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Manchester United hero Rio Ferdinand has been left dumbfounded by Arsenal sensation Gabriel Martinelli and has praised Gunners boss Mikel Arteta for giving the youngster an opportunity to shine this season. Martinelli has been in scintillating form for the north Londoners in recent weeks.

The Brazilian forward initially broke into the Arsenal team during the COVID-19-hit 2019/20 campaign.

But he was forced to bide his time on the bench for a large part of last season after a horror knee injury kept him out for the first half of the campaign.

At the start of this season, Martinelli had appeared to have fallen down the Emirates pecking order, with Emile Smith Rowe impressing in the front three.

But Arteta has introduced the ace back into his team in recent weeks – and he has been rewarded handsomely.

Martinelli has started his side’s last seven Premier League games and has proved to be a menacing proposition for rival defences.

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The 20-year-old scored in Arsenal’s 2-0 victory over West Ham in mid-December before finding the back of the net twice during the Gunners’ 4-1 thumping of Leeds United three days later.

On Saturday, the youngster put in another stellar performance in his team’s 2-1 defeat to runaway league leaders Manchester City.

Martinelli ran the away defence ragged and was unlucky not to get his name of the scoresheet.

Following his impressive displays over the festive period, Ferdinand extolled the forward.

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“Go on YouTube and watch his clips,” the former England centre-back told BT Sport. “It’s just a joke, the talent he’s got.

“I’ve spoken to people at Arsenal and what they say about this kid talent-wise – [he] could potentially be the best of the lot that’s come out in recent years.

“It’s a huge bar but this kid has the talent and the big, big thing about him is his mentality.

“You talk to anybody that knows him – mentally he doesn’t get carried away, doesn’t get too high.

“[He’s a] very balanced kid but has all the fundamentals to really go to the top of the tree and I think he’ll get his opportunity here.

“Mikel Arteta – we’ve seen with [Bukayo] Saka and Smith Rowe – he’s introducing the young players.

“This kid is next on the runway and, when you watch him, there’s a beautiful way he plays. There’s a balance – a rhythm.

“The fans will enjoy watching him here and what I loved was he came on the other day and the fans were singing his name.

“They know what they have here and they need to let him breathe into it.”

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