The 21-year-old forward has put in a great shift for Arsenal this season and earned a spot in the 26-man squad list that Brazil manager Title selected to represent the five-time World Cup title winners.
However, a few names have been put forward as more deserving than the Ituano FC academy graduate. Topping the list is Flamengo striker Gabriel Barbosa, popularly called Gabigol, whose performances helped the Brazilian Serie A club to the top of the mountain in Brazil and on the continent.
A video of Neymar reacting in surprise to Martinelli’s inclusion also made the rounds, fuelling the fire for those who believed Title gave the wrong person a call-up.
But Martinelli has responded, this time in a softer, more confident tone after a furious rant following the initial comments.
Speaking on the Neymar reaction video, the Arsenal man said: “I hope it was a good surprise. Neymar is a hero of mine, he’s a guy all the youngsters look up to and I’m no different,” said Martinelli. “It’s a pleasure to be here playing with him.”
And speaking on the comments in general, he said: “My season is going well, we (Arsenal) are on the top of the Premier League, we are doing well there, and I am confident.
“I don’t pay much attention to people that don’t know me, that don’t know how hard I work.
“I just have to focus on football, listen to my family and the people close to me. That’s what’s most important to me.”
Brazil will first take on Serbia on Thursday in a replay of their 2018 World Cup group stage clash. Serbia will be coming into the game with Aleksandar Mitrović’ and Dušan Vlahovic, who both have a combined 15 goals in 22 league games in their respective leagues.
Asked about his thoughts on the two strikers and the upcoming game, Martinelli said: “He is a big guy, we know he has a lot of qualities and he is good as well.
“We have to take care of him, but not just him, they have a very good team as well.”
Real Madrid defender Eder Militao, said: “They’re great players, they’re strong, they have a lot of quality and obviously we are studying our opponents a lot and we’re preparing for everything.
“We have to be very careful with these players. In the World Cup, whoever makes the fewest mistakes ends up victorious.”