Gabriel Martinelli says ‘everybody’ at Arsenal miss ‘sensational man’ David Luiz and insists his compatriot was an ‘important’ figure in his development at the Emirates Stadium.
Luiz made 73 appearances across two seasons at Arsenal, helping the Gunners win the FA Cup in 2020 under Mikel Arteta.
Speaking at the time, Arteta admitted he felt ‘sadness’ at Luiz’s exit as the Brazilian defender returned to his home country last year to sign for Flamengo.
Martinelli was also disappointed to see Luiz leave and says ‘everybody’ at the club still miss the former Gunner.
‘He is a sensational man, a man who deserves everything he achieved and a person everybody here misses,’ Martinelli told The Times. ‘He was quite important to me when I arrived, giving me advice on my moves.
‘At that moment, I was playing more of a striker role, so I was always close to him in training sessions and he would give me guidance.’
Luiz will no doubt be pleased to see his Brazil team-mate Martinelli thriving at Arsenal. The 21-year-old has enjoyed a superb start to the season, scoring three goals to help the Gunners climb to the top of the Premier League.
Arteta’s side saw their 100% record ended by Manchester United before the international break but returned to winning ways in Saturday’s north London derby, beating Tottenham 3-1 at a raucous Emirates.
Martinelli said: ‘I have never seen our fans like they are now; it’s unreal, it’s amazing. They have been supporting me all the time. That wasn’t always so.
‘I remember the match against Leicester when William [Saliba] scored an own goal, and the stands began to cheer him up and sing.
‘We kicked off and two minutes later Xhaka scored, 3-1. That’s when I realised everything was different this year, the atmosphere was quite different. It is thrilling to listen to on the pitch.’
Arsenal have taken 21 points from their first eight league games and boast a one-point lead over defending champions Manchester City, the only team yet to lose in England.
Gunners star Martinelli added: ‘Obviously this is just the beginning of the season, but since last year we knew he had a quite young team, so this is a project. And we are beginning to reap what has been sown.
‘We know we can achieve very big things, so we must keep the focus and the grit to try to achieve things this year, because I think we have a chance.
‘We have only lost to Manchester United, but if my goal wasn’t disallowed, things might have ended very differently for us.’
Arsenal face Europa League rivals Bodo/Glimt on Thursday night, before returning to domestic action at the weekend against Liverpool.
For more stories like this, check our sport page.