Rio Ferdinand hails Gabriel Martinelli as Arsenal’s best young player and slams ‘waste of money’ transfer signing William Saliba

Rio Ferdinand rates Gabriel Martinelli as the best young player at Arsenal (Picture: YouTube)

Rio Ferdinand has hailed Gabriel Martinelli as Arsenal’s best young player and described summer signing William Saliba as a ‘waste of money’.

Brazilian starlet Martinelli enjoyed a breakthrough season for the Gunners during the 2019-20 campaign before suffering a serious injury in March.

The 19-year-old has only recently returned from a lengthy injury lay-off, featuring in Arsenal’s Boxing Day victory over Chelsea and subsequent win at Brighton.

Arsenal boast a number of talented young players – with Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe impressing this season – but Ferdinand believes Martinelli is the best of the lot.

He told the FIVE YouTube channel: ‘I think Arsenal have really benefited from investing and believing in young players.

‘I think Saka, Emile, they’ve been outstanding. [Joe] Willock at times has come in and done stuff, same for [Ainsley] Maitland-Niles.

‘Without them in this squad, Arsenal would be in even worse shape. Before that they were reliant on [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang, who hasn’t produced this season.

Martinelli enjoyed a breakthrough season for Arsenal during the 2019-20 campaign (Picture: Getty)

‘Without these young players coming in and holding the fort, with all that’s going on, I don’t know where Arsenal would be and the fans would be in the doldrums. ‘Martinelli, for me, is the best one.’

Despite praising Arsenal’s crop of youngsters, Ferdinand still believes the club lack a quality centre-back and has questioned the decision to sign Saliba.

The Gunners spent £27m to sign the French defender from Saint-Etienne in the summer of 2019 but he is yet to feature for Arsenal’s senior team.

William Saliba is yet to feature for the Gunners (Picture: Getty)

According to reports, Arsenal are set to send Saliba to Nice on loan, with Mikel Arteta currently unwilling to put faith in the 19-year-old.

‘I still think Arsenal need a top centre half, all the problems stem from that,’ former Manchester United and England defender Ferdinand added.

‘You’ve got a great nucleus of young players, there’s seven or eight young players there who everyone is talking about.

‘But you’ve got to put the pieces around them and that’s the big problem. That’s been the big problem with recruitment at Arsenal for so long.

‘Saliba, what’s happened with him? It’s a waste of money it seems at the minute. I don’t know what’s happened.

‘Gabriel has been indifferent. Rob Holding’s playing centre back, what does that say? When you see Holding as the Arsenal captain, you could never imagine that a few years ago.’

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