Arsenal star Jurgen Klopp absolutely loves could wreck perfect Liverpool farewell

By Staff

Few players can claim to have given Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool a torrid time during the German’s near nine-year Anfield reign.

Harry Kane, Sergio Aguero and Jamie Vardy are among the select few strikers who have repeatedly troubled the Reds’ backline since October 2015, though Kane and Aguero have since moved on and Vardy is now operating at Championship level.

Other individuals have taken on the mantle of primary pain inducers in more recent times, including Leandro Trossard (six goals in 11 appearances) and Marcus Rashford (seven goals in 17 appearances).

But the one man above all who has appeared hell-bent on giving Klopp post-match nightmares ever since arriving in England five years ago is none other than Arsenal’s Gabriel Martinelli. The Brazilian first faced off against Liverpool in a Carabao Cup fourth-round tie at Anfield in October 2019, scoring twice in a game which ended 5-5 before Klopp’s side prevailed on penalties.

Taken aback by the display he had just witnessed, the Reds’ boss labelled Martinelli as a “talent of the century” after the game before adding: “He’s really unbelievable. So young, looks so mature already, is a proper threat. Yeah, he looks like a really decent player. I didn’t want to put any backpack [pressure] on his back with this thing but I just really like good football players and obviously he’s a very good one.”

The admiration for one another was clearly mutual, with Martinelli telling Marca in 2020: “I feel very proud that one of the best tacticians in the world speaks well of me. Now I have to remain firm, focused and continue working to achieve greater things.”

The sides would meet again in the Carabao Cup three years later during the 2021/22 season, this time at the semi-final stage, and it was evident Klopp’s appreciation for Martinelli had not waned. “Little Martinelli, we will talk about this player in the future, I can promise,” said the German after Liverpool booked their place in the final of the competition. “If he is without major injuries, he will have a proper career.”

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Now enjoying the career Klopp foresaw, Martinelli has indeed endured his fair share of injury setbacks along the way and has missed a total of 54 matches since signing for the Gunners. Perhaps it is no coincidence during Arsenal’s below-par 2019/20 season, which resulted in an eighth-placed finish, the speedy winger was available for fewer than half of their Premier League fixtures.

The 22-year-old has since bounced back from this frustrating period and scored both home and away against the Reds last season, in addition to providing two assists for good measure. Ahead of the first fixture involving the clubs in October 2022, Klopp acknowledged: “He’s become exactly the player I expected.”

Martinelli was at his brilliant best back in February, capitalising on a defensive mix-up between Alisson Becker and Virgil van Dijk to help Mikel Arteta’s men on their way to a 3-1 victory at the Emirates. The explosive forward has scored more goals against Liverpool (5) than any other club in his career, making it clear to see why Klopp holds him in such high regard.

With six goal contributions in his previous seven Premier League outings prior to sustaining a foot injury against Sheffield United, the youngster has played a crucial role in regaining top spot in the division and there could yet be more to come.

After years of dazzling both Klopp and Trent Alexander-Arnold, Martinelli’s final act before the former’s Liverpool exit could be his most devastating yet: firing the Gunners to Premier League glory. Whatever happens next, it’s safe to say the Reds’ boss is unlikely to miss the sight of Arsenal’s No.11 bearing down on goal.

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