Gabriel Martinelli names fellow Brazil international as toughest defender he has ever faced

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By Martin Graham | 17th Nov 2022

Arsenal forward Gabriel Martinelli has named Thiago Silva as the toughest defender he has ever faced in his career.

Martinelli got a surprise call-up to the Brazil World Cup squad and will be playing in his first tournament in Qatar. The call-up comes as a reward for his impressive performances this season, but as a shock to many who believe he was selected because of the team he plays in.

His inclusion has sparked some controversy in Brazil, especially as veteran forward Roberto Firmino was excluded from the 26-man squad list. In the end, the Arsenal man deserves it on merit and is now set to prove his doubters wrong at the mundial in Qatar.

The Arsenal forward is currently in camp preparing for the tournament with the rest of the Brazil squad and had some time to give an interview, where he named veteran Brazil defender, Thiago Silva, as his toughest opponent yet.

“Yes, of course – he is one of the best defenders in the world as well,” the 21-year-old said. “He is 38, and you see him playing now, it’s unbelievable. We [Arsenal] played against him last week, and you could see his quality, his composure. He is so good, a very good guy off the pitch as well.”

Silva is Brazil’s team captain and will be leading them one last time before the world to attempt to capture the country’s sixth world title. He will be hoping that something good comes out of it and also hoping that the downcast aura surrounding Chelsea at the moment is shaken off when the first blast of the whistle goes in Qatar.

The former Paris Saint-Germain defender has been solid for Cmthe Blues despite their poor form this season, however. Former Tottenham midfielder Jamie O’Hara belives that Silva is the only one from Graham Potter’s side who could make it into Arsenal’s squad

Speaking on talkSPORT, he said: “Out of Mason Mount and Gabriel Martinelli, at the moment I’m taking Martinelli, Bukayo Saka over Raheem Sterling. Martin Odegaard, who gets in ahead of him? He’s fantastic.

“Cesar Azpilicueta has been a fantastic player over the years but I think Ben White is ahead of him right now. Everyone’s talking about Chelsea, who have spent a lot of money, £275million.

“They should be challenging for the title. I look at Arsenal’s team and it’s a better side.”

Martin Graham is an MFF sports writer

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