The Premier League’s winter break could not have come at a better time for Arsenal this season as, with three losses on the bounce, the Gunners looked like they were in freefall.
Much of the blame for their poor form has been laid at the feet of their frontline, which, considering they scored just one goal in those three games, is probably fair enough.
With this in mind, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Mikel Arteta and Co are now looking to sign some attacking reinforcements to lighten the load on their talented but misfiring front three, and the latest name touted for a move to N5 could replicate Gabriel Marinelli’s journey while also providing Bukayo Saka with some much-needed competition.
Arsenal look to Brazil for their next superstar
According to a report from Spanish publication Mundo Deportivo earlier this week, Arsenal are keen on Brazilian wonderkid Estevão Willian and are ‘willing to bid hard for him’.
Alongside the Gunners, the report mentions five other top sides interested in the promising prospect nicknamed ‘Messinho’: Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, and Barcelona.
While this competition is sure to complicate any deal for the 16-year-old, his reported release clause of £52m will only make things that much harder.
However, while it will take a lot of work from Edu and Co, and there is something to be said about spending that much money on a teenager, if he can follow in the footsteps of Martinelli and provide some genuine competition for Saka, he seems like a player worth pursuing.
How Estevão Willian could help Bukayo Saka
Now, the first thing to say is that with Saka being Arsenal’s talisman, there is no way Estevão would come in and displace him right away, regardless of the Englishman’s form, such is his importance to Arsenal.
However, what he could do is learn from the Hale End superstar, fill in for him in the less important games and then, after a few years or more, rival him for that starting spot on the right, pushing him to become an even better player than he is now.
This would mirror the path that Martinelli had to take when he joined the club in the summer of 2019 from Ituano Futebol Clube, as it took the then 18-year-old four years to start over 30 league games in a season for the north Londoners, although it might have come sooner for the dynamic attacker had he not suffered a serious knee injury in 2020.
That said, the “world-class talent”, as described by football talent scout Jacek Kulig, already has some impressive numbers to his name despite being just 16 years old.
For example, he has already made his debut in Brazil’s Serie A, and he has been a sensation for Palmeiras’ U20s, scoring six goals and providing three assists in just 19 appearances.
However, where he has shone brightest and put himself in the shop window more than anywhere else was at the U17 World Cup last year.
With Brazil’s U17 side, the “flawless” gem, as described by U23 scout Antonio Mango, truly made a name for himself, registering the most assists, crosses, attempts at goal, sprints and presses in the entire team.
Estêvão Willian’s best stats at the U17 World Cup
Most Attempts at Goal
All Stats via FIFA
At the end of the day, Saka is the undisputed starter on Arsenal’s right-hand side and likely will be for quite some time; however, signing an exciting prospect who Mango described as having “creativity a genius would be proud of” as his understudy would be brilliant planning for the future.
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The 20-year-old could add some extra flair to Arsenal’s midfield.
If Kulig’s prediction that “the sky is the limit” for the young Bazilian’s potential is correct, the hope will be that he can follow in the footsteps of Martinelli – who has 59 goals and assists in 154 games for the club – by flourishing at the Emirates.