La Liga

Arsenal forward Gabriel Martinelli names teammate as his Ballon d’Or pick

Arsenal forward Gabriel Martinelli names teammate as his Ballon d'Or pick

Gabriel Martinelli has named Brazil teammate Vinicius Jr as his pick for the 2024 Ballon d’Or award.

Vinicius has enjoyed an incredible 2023/24 campaign, scoring 24 goals and providing 11 assists across all competitions to help Real Madrid to the La Liga and Champions League double — scoring 21 goals in those two competitions combined.

The 23-year-old was second only to England star Jude Bellingham (25, 19g/6a) among Real Madrid players for direct goal involvements (20, 15g/5a) in La Liga play, while he scored the decisive second goal in the 2-0 Champions League final win over Borussia Dortmund.

As a result, Vinicus is now the heavy favourite to scoop the 2024 Ballon d’Or award, ahead of teammates Bellingham and Toni Kroos as well as the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Harry Kane and Phil Foden.

Vinicius Jr for the Ballon d’Or?

Vinicius can enhance his Ballon d’Or hopes further this summer when he leads the line for Brazil at the Copa America in the United States.

The forward has endured a strangely lean career with his national team so far, notching just three goals and five assists in 29 caps to date.

However, seven of those direct goal involvements (2g/5a) have come in his last 13 caps, including an assist for new Real Madrid teammate Endrick in Brazil’s 3-2 win over Mexico in Texas on Saturday.

Speaking to reporters ahead of that match, Arsenal forward Martinelli backed Vinicius for the 2024 Ballon d’Or.

“Of course, it is a great pride to be playing with him,” he said (via 90min). “Experiencing day to day life, seeing the special and deserving boy he is. I’m very happy to be Brazilian and see Vini shining.

“In my opinion, he deserves to win the Ballon d’Or. It’s a pleasure to share the field with him.”

Should Vinicius take the award, he’ll be the first Brazilian winner since Kaka in 2007 and the fifth Brazilian player all-time to scoop the accolade alongside the aforementioned ex-AC Milan and Real Madrid star, Ronaldinho (2005), Rivaldo (1999) and Ronaldo (1997, 2002).

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