Gabriel Martinelli

Brazil captain Thiago Silva claimed that the ‘arrogance’ that Arsenal star Gabriel Martinelli show in his game is exactly what all elite attacking players need.

The Chelsea defender heaped praise on his national team-mate ahead of the World Cup opener with Serbia on Thursday, after a stunning call-up to the national team.

But despite his inclusion in the squad being somewhat of a shock, Martinelli has been in brilliant form with the Gunners this season, contributing five goals and two assists as Arsenal sit top of the table at Christmas.

‘He’s playing without fear and, if he gets the chance to play, I don’t think it will faze him and he’ll just do what we know he can do.

‘I think all attacking players at the top level need that little bit of arrogance – that they know they can do something special – and he has that.’

Martinelli was perhaps a surprise inclusion in a Brazil frontline that includes stars like Neymar, Vinicius Jnr, Rodrygo and Gabriel Jesus.

However Blues defender Silva has talked up his younger team-mate’s chances of starring for the Selecao in Qatar and believes he will not find the world’s greatest stage a daunting one.

It is yet to be seen whether Martinelli will be able to force his way into the starting XI in what is set to be a star-studded line-up irrespective of who makes Tite’s team sheet.

Martinelli has only three caps for his country but has clearly impressed his manager enough to earn the right to add to that tally on the big stage.

And Silva has also spoken about his country’s wish to bring their talismanic forward Neymar a World Cup winners’ medal back from Qatar, in what may be his final appearance at the competition.

Neymar has the chance to become his country’s leading goalscorer, needing two goals at the tournament to draw level with Pele’s long-standing record for Brazil, and could even surpass the global legend in Qatar.

Having made his debut for the Selecao a month after the 2010 tournament in South Africa, Neymar has only represented Brazil at two competitions, the first of which ended in heartbreak after a back injury curtailed his 2014 campaign in Brazil.

But Brazil return to football’s biggest competition this time around with more than just the regular backing, and look to be serious contenders.

‘If it is his last World Cup, then we have to do everything to win for him. Every player who represents Brazil at the World Cup has pressure on them, but for Neymar that pressure has always been different.

‘Since he was a teenager, he has had the hopes of a nation on him and that is a lot of expectation for anybody.

‘He has always handled that well though – look at what he’s done on the pitch. He’s a special player and a special person.’



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