Arsenal

The three Arsenal players who could be the ‘next Gabriel Martinelli’ after shirt number change

Gabriel Martinelli has a new squad number at Arsenal, but which players could also be in line for an alteration at the Emirates Stadium ahead of the 2022/23 season?

Gabriel Martinelli has a new Arsenal shirt number. After almost two full seasons with no.35 on his back following his move from Ituano, a big change was announced as the club launched their new home kit.

Via the Gunners’ social media channels, it has been confirmed that the Brazilian has upgraded to number 11. Now all signs had previously been pointing towards a different squad number for the 20-year-old and his chances of receiving it was made easier following Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s departure in January.

“I want to follow into Aubameyang’s footsteps, he’s a captain, he wears the number 14 shirt,” Martinelli told ESPN last year. “That is a symbol for this club and of course, I hope to be very successful at Arsenal.”

There’s nothing stopping the youngster from being very successful at Arsenal and he will look to fulfil those dreams with the No. 11 on the back of his shirt from the 2022/23 season onwards. With that said, which of his teammates can follow in his footsteps and effectively become the ‘next Gabriel Martinelli’ by changing shirt numbers?

As reported by football.london, the Gunners are planning another busy summer in terms of incomings. Although, as there are expected to be a number of first-team players leaving in order to raise funds or bring the wage bill down even further, more shirt number changes could be on the horizon.

Whilst any new arrival – amid links to the likes of Gabriel Jesus, Youri Tielemans and Aaron Hickey – at the Emirates Stadium will be allocated a squad number, certain departures could allow those who are staying to make a change. Below are the Arsenal players who could follow in Martinelli’s footsteps and change shirt numbers for the 2022/23 season.

Aaron Ramsdale

Bernd Leno’s expected departure may allow Aaron Ramsdale to take on the no.1 shirt having worn no.32 during his first season at the club after his £24m arrival from Sheffield United. As Arsenal’s first-choice keeper, this potential shirt number change would further cement this status.

Although, it’s not nailed on that the England international will make the request as he did wear no.12 during his first spell at Bramall Lane and during his time at Bournemouth. Furthermore, he had the no.13 for the national team at last summer’s European Championships, so he may not be too bothered about making the change.

But as the Arsenal no.1 shirt is likely to be vacant, it would be somewhat of a surprise if Ramsdale doesn’t take it on in order to emulate club legend David Seaman with whom he has developed a connection. “Even just being at Arsenal and now having the connection with David Seaman – I’ve got his number and get a text from him every now and then, it’s surreal,” Ramsdale said earlier in the season, as per talkSPORT.

Takehiro Tomiyasu

This is somewhat of a contentious one. If Arteta decides to integrate William Saliba into the first-team squad next season, then the defender will need a new shirt number as the no.4 which he had during the first half of last season has since been allocated to Benjamin White and that’s unlikely to change.

Saliba’s shirt number at Marseille may offer a solution as he could take the no.2 at Arsenal which has been vacant this season due to Hector Bellerin being out on loan at Real Betis and with talks over a permanent move for the Spaniard on the horizon, this likely exit can potentially help the France international.

However, as the no.2 shirt is widely regarded as the perfect squad number for a first-choice right-back, Takehiro Tomiyasu has certainly proven he should be in consideration for an upgrade having worn no.18 following his move from Bologna last summer.

Eddie Nketiah

A shirt number change could be on the cards for Eddie Nketiah – but only on the condition that he signs a new contract with Arsenal as his current deal expires at the end of June – and there’s no real sign of his intentions just yet.

What is for certain is that the no.9 – currently worn by Alexandre Lacazette – is his favoured option, although he does have a soft spot for the no.14 in honour of Arsenal legend Thierry Henry. “I’d always tried to be like him in the playground, so to work with him was amazing,” he told The Athletic in November 2020. “I had a great season with him. When I went to Leeds, the No 9 wasn’t available, but the 14 was and I loved that number.”

For Nketiah to get either shirt number at Arsenal, he first needs to sign a new contract. Then Lacazette needs to depart, thus vacating the no.9 shirt. However, as Gabriel Jesus remains Arsenal’s prime transfer target, it’s likely that the Brazilian would land this particular squad number leaving the already vacant no.14 as an option.

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