Mason Greenwood’s recent run of form for Manchester United since the restart has rekindled a debate that has been brewing since the winter – his comparison with Arsenal youngster Gabriel Martinelli.
Greenwood’s scintillating form has given Manchester United fans to brag about the teenage sensation’s ability and potential while Arsenal faithful have remained muted as Martinelli has been ruled out for the rest of the season due to a knee injury.
But expect the hostilities to begin again at the start of next season.
Mason Greenwood has 15 goals in all competitions this season and has become part of a free-scoring striker force that includes Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.
The 18-year-old is further flourishing playing in a creative Manchester United side who have scored eleven times in the last three league games.
Arsenal signed Gabriel Martinelli from Brazilian outfit Ituano last summer, beating competition from several clubs in Europe. 10 goals in his first season in England shows that the 19-year-old forward has considerable talent.
His performance against Chelsea in a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge and in an EFL Cup game at Liverpool showed that he doesn’t get overawed by the occasion.
But an injury means Arsenal are missing his services at the business end of the season.
But now the question is how Mason Greenwood and Gabriel Martinelli compare? On the sheer weight of numbers, the Manchester United youngster seems to be ahead of the Arsenal starlet at the moment.
His goal per minute ratio is better than Martinelli’s at the moment. However, it is mightily difficult to pick the better youngster as there are other factors in football that determine who goes on to become a star and who doesn’t.
So, let’s dive in and see what challenges lie ahead for these two prodigiously talented youngsters.
Mason Greenwood – The Manchester United prodigy
The 18-year-old forward’s rise this season has not come as a major surprise for many Manchester United observes who have been keeping track of his progress in the club’s academy.
Mason Greenwood has been a lethal goalscorer at all levels and his ability to shoot with both feet makes him an awkward forward to handle for defenders.
His name has been taken in hushed tones in and around Manchester United for the last couple of years as the club are very careful about not exposing their talented youngsters to the world of hype too soon.
But regular observes believed that it was only a matter of time before he broke into the first team.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has already stated that the youngster is the best finisher he has worked with but there are other aspects of him that is often not discussed.
People who have been watching Mason Greenwood for a few years have often stressed the importance of his cold temperament.
He has the cool and calm ruthlessness that all great goalscorers have. His composure, his ability to keep a cool head inside the box and the talent to shoot early are all traits of a great goalscorer in making.
Since the restart, he also looked in better shape physically and has developed extra muscle that has allowed him to improve his hold up play against strong defenders.
But what could go wrong? For a talented youngster, a lot!
The young striker is yet to taste any major injury in his career thus far.
He has remained fit over the last few years and it has allowed him to consistently develop without having to spend a considerable period of time on the sidelines.
Injuries have been a major reason behind the stunted growth of many prodigious youngsters.
Some have been forced to change their style, some of them lost the pace that made them that extra special.
Long term injuries often take the edge out of players and it could become really difficult to rebuild careers.
With his ability on show, teams will come up with plans to keep him quiet and how he reacts to more attention from defenders and defensive midfielders will also be interesting to note.g
Gabriel Martinelli – Arsenal’s next big hope
Bukayo Saka’s performances since the restart have been hailed by many Arsenal supporters and his decision to sign a new contract was widely celebrated by the Gunners.
But Saka was not the youngster Arsenal fans were buzzing about during the winner and all their love was reserved for a youngster from Brazil – Gabriel Martinelli.
Arsenal director of football Edu wisely used his contacts in Brazil to sign the young forward from Ituano last summer.
But very few expected much from a youngster coming to England in his first season, and the 2019-20 campaign was supposed to be used as a bedding-in period for the Brazilian.
But the 19-year-old has already made his mark before the season was suspended in March due to the pandemic.
A goal against West Ham was part of a run of three Premier League games where he started.
He also netted in a 1-1 draw at Sheffield United in January but his goal against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge that made everyone stand up and take notice.
The youngster took control of the ball just outside the Arsenal penalty box after a Chelsea corner was cleared and ran the full length of the pitch to score at the other end.
The strike announced his arrival in English football in a big way.
Gabriel Martinelli’s biggest asset is his blistering pace.
It makes him a huge threat on counter-attacks, and he also has the ability to be in the right position at the right time in the penalty box.
However, it seems he is yet to fully convince Arsenal manager Mike Arteta.
He was an unused substitute against Manchester City and Brighton when the season resumed before succumbing to a knee injury in training.
Arsenal needed a goal against Brighton towards the end but Arteta refused to throw him into the mix even with the new rule of being able to use five substitutes.
Next season is going to be vital for Martinelli and it remains to be seen how he comes back from injury.
Arteta has used youngster Eddie Nketiah since the restart and Martinelli will be hoping that he gets more opportunities once he returns.
It is vital that the Brazilian earns the Arsenal manager’s trust as even if Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang leaves, Arteta will have Lacazette, Pepe and Nketiah in his squad to choose from in his attack.
If the Gabonese decides to stay, the competition for places in the Arsenal squad will be fierce.
The striker will also have to deal with the pressure of not being an unknown quantity next season.
He will get more attention for defenders and teams will smart up to his threat on the counter due to his blistering pace.
It remains to be seen how Arteta manages the forward next season and whether he will be prepared to give him more opportunities in the starting eleven if Aubameyang leaves or decides to bring in a new forward to his squad.