£7million Middlesbrough and Leeds United target set for international battle after impressive form

Former Middlesbrough ‘target’ Gabriel Martinelli has continued his promising form for Arsenal - and looks set to be the subject of a heated battle.

Friday, 25th October 2019, 4:30 pm
Updated Friday, 25th October 2019, 5:30 pm
Middlesbrough were linked with striker Gabriel Martinelli this summer

The youngster was linked with Boro, Leeds United and Watford before joining the Gunners in the summer, and has made a fine start to life in North London.

And after Martinelli netted in the Europa League win over Vitoria this week, the battle for his international future looks set to ramp up.

While born in Brazil, the 18-year-old qualifies to play for Italy through his grandfather - and the Azzurri are thought to be keen to see the attacker play for their national side.

Manager Roberto Mancini, though, was quick to play down the speculation.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“As for Martinelli, it’s not so easy to apply to play for Italy,” he said.

“We need to wait for players with two passports. In the meantime, we’ll continue to exchange [Ciro] Immobile with [Andrea] Belotti."

Middlesbrough’s supposed interest in Martinelli came via club legend Juninho.

The teenager as reportedly brought to Boro's attention by the former midfielder, who runs Martinelli's former side Ituano.

Boro weren’t the only side linked with the forward, with Barcelona and Manchester United both having offered him trials after some eye-catching performances in his homeland.

In the end, though, it was Arsenal who snapped up the promising youngster for a fee believed to be in the region of £7million.

He has gone on to make six appearances, scoring five times.