Gabriel Martinelli has defended his call-up into the Brazil squad for the World Cup, despite some criticism over the decision.

The Arsenal forward has played just three times for his national side, with no goals as of yet, but club performances helped to secure his place in Tite’s team.

He was an important part of Brazil’s under-23 squad which won Olympic gold at the Games in Tokyo last summer.

However, the 21-year-old’s inclusion in the World Cup squad – ahead of Copa Libertadores’ star Gabigol – was branded ‘a joke’ by former international player Neto, who claimed Brazilians don’t know who he is, as previously reported by Sportsmail.

Martinelli responded to the claims when he told ESPN Brasil: ‘I think this is normal. Some people in Brazil don’t know me and it’s also normal to say that other players deserved to be there. But I’m pretty cool about it. I think this is normal.

‘I know what I’m doing at my club, I know my ability and I know what I can do. And you can be sure that I will do my best for the Brazilian team, in whatever I can help the team I will help. It will be a great experience for me.’

Arsenal, who currently sit top of the Premier League table, will see a number of their players grace the World Cup stage for their nations. Thursday’s England squad announcement included the names of Bukayo Saka, Aaron Ramsdale and Ben White.

Martinelli added: ‘It’s good for Arsenal to have players in the World Cup. And everyone was very happy, we are a very united team. There was also the call-up of Bukayo, Aaron, Ben, so we are happy for each other.

‘We know that we are at the top of the Premier League, but this is just the beginning, and that we still have a lot of work to do.’

Arsenal’s final match before the World Cup is a Premier League fixture away at Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday night.

Brazil’s campaign in Qatar begins against Serbia on November 24, before facing up to Switzerland and Cameroon in their remaining Group G matches.

The 21-year-old forms part of Brazil’s frontline which also includes fellow Gunner Gabriel Jesus, alongside Neymar, Antony and Vinicius Junior.



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