Manchester United are known for their youth policy and their academy is one of the most famous in the world for producing first team stars over the years.
2022 marks 85 years of the Reds’ matchday squad featuring at least one Academy graduate for every match – a record unlikely to be broken any time soon.
Inevitable, there will be players who slipped through the nets and found their calling at some other club and one of them is current Arsenal star Gabriel Martinelli.
Martinelli’s United trials
The 21-year-old has been in fine form this season, registering five goals and two assists in the league to help the Gunners maintain their lead atop the Premier League standings.
And his consistent displays this season has meant that the Arsenal star made the cut for Brazil’s World Cup team as Tite included him in his 26-man squad.
It could have been a lot different if his trials bore fruit when he was young. He had attended trials at United more than a couple of times and he had seemed confident that his displays would guarantee an induction into the famed Red Devils’ academy.
✍️| Martinelli: “To be honest, I was shaken. Man United had seen me play several times, and I was sure they were going to sign me, you know? A few weeks later I got another trial, at Barcelona. I spent 15 days there. They didn’t want me either.” #afc
— Arsenal Buzz (@ArsenalBuzzCom) November 18, 2022
However, that did not come prove to be the case and he was informed by the Old Trafford club that he did not make the cut.
Not only the 20-time English champions, but Barcelona also refused to sign him onboard despite the youngster spending almost 15 days as a triallist there.
Speaking to Players Tribune, the Brazil international said, “You see, I used to be part of this project at Manchester United. I was actually there for several trials.
“I even met many of the senior players. When I was 17, I had my last session there, so I went back to Brazil waiting for news.
“One day my dad called me into the living room. He had spoken to my agent and … well, United had said no. Not just, ‘No, for this year.’ But, ‘No, we don’t want him. At all.’
Arsenal helped him realise Brazil WC dream
“To be honest, I was shaken. They had seen me play several times, and I was sure they were going to sign me, you know?
“A few weeks later I got another trial, at Barcelona. I spent 15 days there. They didn’t want me either. That was easier to accept because it was just one trial. Still….”
And that is why he feels grateful for the trust shown in him by the North London side, because of whom he has managed to break into his nation’s World Cup side.
“I thank God that I came to Arsenal in 2019. I really believe that things happen for a reason, and I’m so happy here. It’s funny to look back now because I could so easily have ended up somewhere else.
“When Tite did call me up, I was so emotional. Pô, you have no idea … I felt like I was living in some kind of parallel fantasy world.
“I owe so much to so many people, especially my parents. But I want to start by thanking my second family — Arsenal — because without you guys none of this would have been possible.”
It might be a case of missed opportunity for United but for a club of this size, there are bound to be players that will succeed someplace else.
United should not feel too aggrieved considering the talent that is coming up through the ranks at the club currently, one of which is Alejandro Garnacho.