Arsenal must keep young trio Gabriel Martinelli, Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe as stats reveal they are eclipsing Cristiano Ronaldo at the same age and are not far behind Lionel Messi March 22, 2022 – Posted in: Soccer

Everyone loves to compare Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as not many are achieving the numbers they did at the beginning of their careers.

But Arsenal youngsters Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Emile Smith Rowe are making a decent fist of matching them.

Arsenal FC via Getty

The future is looking great for Arsenal with Smith Rowe, Martinelli and Saka lighting the way

With Saka and Martinelli aged at just 20, and Smith Rowe a year older, their impact in the team has been phenomenal, and one that could help the Gunners seal a return to the Champions League.

Their flair, creativity and chemistry has been too much for some Premier League defences to handle but what’s been the most impressive aspect of their game is their output, which is remarkably high given their relative inexperience.

Gunners boss Mikel Arteta will need his young trio to be on form after the international break as the season enters its business end as failure to finish in the top four could see Arsenal struggle to keep hold of their top talents.

For example, Liverpool and Manchester City have both been linked with Saka recently, and could make a move for him if Arsenal are unable to fulfil his wishes on the pitch.

For the time being though, things are looking rosy for the Gunners and talkSPORT.com takes a look at how they are faring compared to two of the greatest players of all time were at their ages.


Ronaldo is one of the greatest players of all time, but Saka, Martinelli and Smith Rowe have already produced better numbers when he was their age

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Ronaldo is one of the greatest players of all time, but Saka, Martinelli and Smith Rowe have already produced better numbers when he was their age

Messi was and still is extraordinary, and whilst Arsenal’s trio may not match what he achieved, they do belong in the conversation at least

Messi was and still is extraordinary, and whilst Arsenal’s trio may not match what he achieved, they do belong in the conversation at least

Bukayo Saka (20-years-old)

Starting with the Arsenal no.7, his league return currently stands at nine goals and five assists in 28 games.

His end product outstanding and talkSPORT’s Gabby Agbonlahor singled him out for praise after Arsenal’s 1-0 win against Aston Villa at the weekend.

“Saka looks like a ridiculous threat, even Ashley Young today I said to him after the game, ‘the best left back in the world wouldn’t have been able to do any better against Saka today’,” Agbonlahor said.

“He was frightening, comes short and running long, his pace, the way he runs so direct, honestly he was outstanding.”

Saka is approaching double figures in the league for the first time

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Saka is approaching double figures in the league for the first time

It can be understood why there is so much excitement about Saka, and based on his numbers compared to Messi and Ronaldo at his age, Arsenal fans could be witnessing a player who may one day become one of the best.

In 2005, the Man United star was 20-years-old, and in the 2004/05 season, he got four goals and five assists in 33 league games.

Messi meanwhile was the same age in 2007, and the 2007/08 season saw him come up with a return of ten goals and 14 assists.

Saka vs Ronaldo vs Messi

Saka (so far) – 28 Premier League games, nine goals and five assists

Ronaldo (2004/05) 33 Premier League games, five goals and four assists

Messi (2007/08) 28 LaLiga games, ten goals and 14 assists

Gabriel Martinelli (20-years-old)

Signing for just £6million from fourth division Brazilian side Ituano in 2019, Martinelli may go down as one of the club’s best ever signings.

The winger has dazzled the crowd at the Emirates stadium with an array of skill, pace, and clinical finishing.

Even though he hasn’t started as many games as Saka this season, Martinelli is still proving to be a valuable member in the Arsenal squad.

He’s been given 18 appearances in the league this season, and more often than not, has returned with either a goal or an assist, with eight contributions in front of goal.

Whilst his numbers aren’t quite on the same level as Messi’s, it must be noted he’s played considerably fewer matches than the Argentine did.

But Martinelli is on par with Ronaldo, despite playing almost half the amount of matches.

Martinelli vs Ronaldo vs Messi

Martinelli (so far) – 18 Premier League games, five goals and three assists

Ronaldo (04/05) 33 Premier League games, five goals and four assists

Messi (07/08) 28 LaLiga games, ten goals and 14 assists

Martinelli’s best game this season came against Leeds where he netted a brace in a 4-1 win

getty

Martinelli’s best game this season came against Leeds where he netted a brace in a 4-1 win

Emile Smith Rowe (21-years-old)

Another to have come from the Gunners academy is Smith Rowe, who whilst on a bit of a dry spell of late, is still well in with a shout of reaching double figures in the league this season.

Smith Rowe has nine goals and two assists in 24 games, with his best spell coming between October and December 2021, getting four goals in six matches.

What’s been just as impressive though is how he’s still found the net whilst not starting every game, such as when he scored in three successive games against West Ham, Leeds and Norwich.

Even though his numbers aren’t quite on the same level as Messi, who at the same age had 36 goal contributions in 31 LaLiga games, Martinelli is still rivalling Ronaldo.

His output stood at nine goals and seven assists in 36 league games in the 2005/06 season.

Smith Rowe vs Ronaldo vs Messi

Smith Rowe (so far) – 24 Premier League games, nine goals and two assists

Ronaldo (2005/06) 33 Premier League games, nine goals and seven assists

Messi (2008/09) 31 LaLiga games, 23 goals and 13 assists

Smith Rowe both scored and assisted a goal in Arsenal’s 3-1 win against Aston Villa earlier this season.

Getty

Smith Rowe both scored and assisted a goal in Arsenal’s 3-1 win against Aston Villa earlier this season.

As Saka, Smith Rowe and Martinelli continue to develop their games, Arsenal’s future looks very bright.

However, they must, at all costs, match their ambitions as these three players look set to be heading to the top, and could leave if Arsenal do not return to the side they were under Arsene Wenger.

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