Great article for #TheAthleticLads
It was Cagigao’s lead scout in Brazil, Everton Gushiken, who first brought Martinelli to his attention. There was enough that was intriguing about this player to overlook the fact he was currently with fourth-division Ituano. He had previously been on the books at Corinthians, scoring 73 goals in 139 games. What’s more, he’d already been invited for two trials at Manchester United. Arsenal explored the prospect of bringing him for a trial at London Colney but were beaten to the punch by Barcelona. Fortunately, the Spanish giants decided against signing him.
Cagigao made the decision to fly to Brazil and watch Martinelli compete in the flesh in the Copinha — the under-20 club competition in which a 15-year-old Neymar once starred for Santos. Martinelli was top scorer in the competition’s group stage. With competition for his signature hotting up, time was of the essence.
Cagigao convinced Sanllehi to negotiate an exclusivity option, granting Arsenal a four-week window after the player’s 18th birthday in which only they would be able to negotiate a permanent transfer. Meanwhile, Arsenal scouts Gushiken and Jonathan Vidalle ensured there was an Arsenal presence at every Ituano game. In-depth statistical analysis does not exist for a club as small as Ituano — this was a triumph of pure scouting. The final stage was a face-to-face meeting between Cagigao, the player and his father. Cagigao saw what Vela had lacked: humility, determination, ambition. His mind was made up.