Kieran Tierney has been full of praise for Arsenal youngster Gabriel Martinelli after Mikel Arteta suggested they were not a good fit together on the pitch.
The Emirates faithful clamoured to see more of the Brazilian last season but the Gunners boss did not grant them their wish.
The 20-year-old started just four Premier League games last year with a further ten appearances coming from the substitutes bench.
Martinelli can play through the middle but with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette ahead of him, he is usually deployed on the left-wing.
And the fact Tierney is one of the first names on the teamsheet at left-back is perhaps hindering his game time.
Can Kieran Tierney and Gabriel Martinelli form a successful partnership? Comment below
Arteta hinted that Tierney’s desire to get forward coupled with Martinelli’s defensive frailties doesn’t provide a good balance for Arsenal.
One of Martinelli’s best performances of the season came in a 2-0 win against Newcastle when Granit Xhaka took Tierney’s place at left-back due to injury.
Arteta said: “Gabi is improving every week, he’s taking his minutes in the right way and he is developing in the way we all believe he can.
“He had an assist and it was an important moment. He had some good moments off the left and also playing as the nine as well.
“It is a connection there.
“I think having Granit behind him helps him in a way because he’s more in the line, in the last line, on the left when he is more comfortable.
“With Kieran it’s a little bit different. Those relationships we have to feel.”
Arsenal fans hope Arteta can find a way to get both Tierney and Martinelli on the pitch at the same time moving forward.
And Tierney clearly feels the same way as he praised his teammate during a Twitter Q&A with fans.
@_AFCKG_ asked: “How’s it feel to be privileged to be playing alongside Gabi Martinelli?
Tierney responded: “What a guy. What a player.”
Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown claimed Arteta wasn’t a fan of Martinelli after was rested for the first leg of the Europa League semi-final at Villarreal.
He said: “The manager doesn’t like him. It’s as simple as that.”
But the Spanish boss insists that’s not the case and Martinelli is a big part of the club’s future
Arteta said: “Guys, I love Gabi so much, more than all of you together.
“Just look at how much he’s played in the last two years and how much he has played with me when he’s been available and then we can discuss that.
“This is just what happens. This debate is always happening when you don’t win. If it wasn’t him, it would be someone else. It would be [Alexandre] Lacazette, or Willian or Pepe.”