Gabriel Martinelli admits Arsenal 'miss' David Luiz

Martinelli played with Luiz for two seasons
Martinelli played with Luiz for two seasons / Soccrates Images/GettyImages

After losing out on Champions League football in excruciating circumstances last season things are finally starting to look up for Arsenal under Mikel Arteta.

The Gunners find themselves top of the table after eight games, a single point above Arteta's former employers Manchester City and having lost only once to start the campaign.

The surest sign that a club once perpetually mired in turmoil has turned the corner? Granit Xhaka has (very deservedly) won his very first Player of the Month award seven years into his Arsenal career. Talk about progress.

Without the pressure of the armband seemingly weighing him down Xhaka's fiery leadership qualities have shone, complementing the quieter, more understated style of Martin Ødegaard who, even at only 23 years of age, is already proving to be an incredibly astute choice as club captain.

Ably led by Ødegaard, Arteta has his young team purring at the moment and playing the kind of daring, front-foot football Arsenal fans have been pining for since Arsene Wenger's departure all the way back in 2018.

Despite this, one of the club's brightest talents, the quicksilver forward Gabriel Martinelli, believes that a former old head is being missed in the dressing room. That man - of course - is David Luiz, now turning out regularly for Brazilian giants Flamengo in Série A.

"He is a sensational man, a man who deserves everything he achieved and a person everybody here misses," Martinelli said of his compatriot and former teammate in an interview with The Times.

"He was quite important to me when I arrived, giving me advice on my moves. At that moment, I was playing more of a striker role, so I was always close to him in training sessions and he would give me guidance."

Luiz joined the club from Chelsea for £8m during the same 2019 summer window as Martinelli, ostensibly signed by Unai Emery to replace the departing Laurent Koscielny and bolster a squad that contained only Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Shkodran Mustafi, Rob Holding and Calum Chambers as centre-back options.

The defender made 73 appearances in all competitions across two seasons at the Emirates Stadium, although his performances were often marred by the same costly lapses in concentration that plagued much of Luiz's career.

While Arsenal supporters might not look back on the signing of the former Brazil international too fondly, it appears it did lead to some valuable mentoring on the training ground and behind the scenes and in particular helps explain why Martinelli himself - a relatively unknown player who had only experienced State League football in Brazil for Ituano - made such a blistering start to his career in England.