Gabriel Martinelli admitted he felt anxious during a trial period at Manchester United that ended up in a crushing rejection.

The Brazil international came close to joining the Red Devils earlier in his career but failed to impress United’s coaching staff and was forced to return to his hometown club Ituano.

A second chance to join a Premier League powerhouse soon arrived, however, when he was spotted by Arsenal’s former recruitment chief Francis Cagigao.

Martinelli made an instant impact upon arriving in north London in the summer of 2019, thriving underUnai Emery before becoming an integral part of Mikel Arteta’s rejuvenated squad which is mounting a second successive title bid.

It could all have been so different for the versatile forward had he signed for United back when he was a teenager but he insists he harbours no regrets.

‘I was hoping… when you get a trial you think it’s going to work out. ‘ he told ESPN Brazil.

‘And at a club the size of Manchester United, it makes you anxious. But things happen for a reason. It wasn’t where I was supposed to be, it was at Arsenal.

‘And everything worked out for me to go to Arsenal.’

Being turned away by United wasn’t the only blow Martinelli suffered during his formative years and he also opened up on being forced to leave Corinthians, the club he supported as a child.

‘My father always had the dream of having a player son. He tried to be a player, but it didn’t work out.

‘He played amateur football. He had in mind that when I turned six, he would take me to Corinthians. He took me and I remember it to this day.

‘On the court at Parque São Jorge, when I was six years old, it looked like a field. I passed the test, it was Célio, an incredible guy.

‘He approved me and then I went on my way. I suffered a lot because I got there when I was six and left when I was 13. It was a very tough time. I still remember it today.

‘We had won a title at the end of the year and I told the coach I was leaving. He didn’t believe it. I cried a lot, my mother cried.

‘Leaving a place where everyone knew me, was my home, I suffered a lot.

‘But I had to understand that it was my parents’ decision.’