Arsenal fear Gabriel Martinelli exit as European football hangs in balance

Arsenal secretly fear they could lose Gabriel Martinelli if they don't secure Champions League football next season.

The 18-year-old was only drafted in from Brazilian outfit Ituano in the summer.

But he's already stunned coaches behind the scenes, who reckon the versatile forward could be a future superstar.

Since making his debut, Martinelli has scored 10 goals in 22 games.

That has now put him firmly on the radar of some of the biggest and richest clubs in Europe.

Real Madrid and PSG are both monitoring his development with interest.

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Arsenal believe they can keep their rising star happy at the Emirates.

Nevertheless, there's growing concern that a lack of Champions League football for another season means keeping hold of prized assets will become increasingly tricky.

Barcelona retain a long-running interest in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

The Catalans signed ex-Middlesbrough forward Martin Braithwaite from Leganes earlier this week as cover for Ousmane Dembele.

The 28-year-old is only viewed as a short-term fix, though.

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Nou Camp bigwigs are still eyeing replacements for Dembele, who has been ravaged by injuries.

Aubameyang has been prolific in the Premier League having joined the club from Borussia Dortmund in 2018.

He's racked up an impressive 47 goals in 73 top-flight games despite the Gunners' woes in recent seasons.

But at 31 years old, Arsenal would rather cash in on the Gabon international than lose Martinelli.

It's considered far more important to Mikel Arteta's project that the rookie is kept on the books.

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Performances have improved steadily under the Spaniard.

Arsenal battered Newcastle 4-0 in their last Premier League outing and defeated Olympiakos 1-0 in the Europa League.

The players are universally buying into Arteta's methods.

He is well respected by the Arsenal dressing room and several stars have privately noted similarities with Pep Guardiola's style of management.

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It was Arteta's personal intervention that convinced Granit Xhaka to snub a January transfer.

The former midfielder wants to build his side around hungry young players.

And, after the club spent lavishly last summer, getting the Gunners back in Europe's elite competition is deemed crucial to keeping the squad together.

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