By Joe Ellis

23rd May, 2022 | 9:00pm

View: Arsenal must make Gabriel Martinelli Arteta's main man next season

Arsenal narrowly missed out on achieving a top-four finish and Champions League football this season but they have plenty to be hopeful about.

The Gunners have some of the country’s most highly-rated young talent in their ranks and the likes of Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith-Rowe have been strutting their stuff and taking the headlines from the media all season.

But Mikel Arteta needs to look past the English duo and to his Brazilian wonder on the left-flank for his leading man next season.

Gabriel Martinelli has really begun to shine at The Emirates and his impressive form and very direct running has even seen Smith-Rowe relegated to the bench towards the back end of the 2021-22 campaign.

You only have to look at the 20-year-old’s stellar performance in the 2-1 win at home to Leeds United earlier in May to realise just how tormenting he can be for opposition defenders.

His assist in this game for Eddie Nketiah’s second of the day epitomises what he is all about as he was surrounded by Leeds players on the left-hand side with seemingly no way out.

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Martinelli was already being challenged from behind by countryman Raphinha but he shrugged the Whites player off and headed for the touch line.

Such is the speed of the 20-year-old, no navy blue shirt could keep up with him and he quickly found himself in the area with options aplenty.

He could have squared the ball for a totally unmarked Saka at the back post and it looked the most likely ball but instead, he managed to wrap his foot around the ball and pull it back for Nketiah to stroke it home into the bottom corner.

Into the second half, he was torturing Raphinha again who had been placed in an unnatural role at right-back after Luke Ayling’s red card.

Having stood the Leeds number 10 up, he darted towards the touchline again and got the edge on his opponent but instead of crossing as Raphinha assumed he would, a deft chop back onto his right foot followed.

As he did so, Raphinha slid in to try and block the cross but was left humiliated on his backside as Martinelli ducked in field to eventually shoot straight at Illan Meslier in the Leeds goal.

This was just one game of brilliance from the 20-year-old and if Arteta wants to squeeze into those Champions League places next season, then he needs to be a key part of the Arsenal challenge.

In other Arsenal news, Thierry Henry has not been happy with his former side’s treatment of William Saliba.