Manuel Veth –
Gelson Martins is the latest winger linked with a move to Bayern München. The Sporting Lisbon right-winger becomes the latest attacking midfielder to be connected as a possible player Bayern could be looking at to replace Frank Ribéry and Arjen Robben in the medium-term.
Whether the two wingers will remain at Bayern beyond this season remains up in the air. Both will become free-agents at the end of the season, and through the grape-vine, Bayern’s officials have suggested that it could be possible that one, or both, will no longer be part of the side next season. CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has recently suggested a soft-transition when it comes to replacing the two Bayern legends.
The arrival of Serge Gnabry next season, the emergence of Kingsley Coman as a star and the renaissance of Thomas Müller means that Bayern have plenty of firepowers even without the two ageing stars—something that was demonstrated in Bayern’s 5-0 win over Besiktas where both Robben and Ribéry were left out of the starting formation. At the same time, it is without a doubt that Bayern would have to sign another player for the wing.
One of those players could be Gelson Martins. Born in Praia on the Cap Verdes Gelson Dany Batalha Martins moved to Portugal in his teens playing youth football with C.F. Benfica, not to be confused with Sport Lisboa e Benfica, one of the giants of Portuguese football, before joining Sporting’s youth academy in 2010.
Jorge Jesus promoted Gelson Martins in 2015
It was here that Gelson Martins became one of the hottest prospects in Portuguese football. In 2014 he made his debut as a 19-year-old for Sporting B in the Segunda Liga against Olhanense. One year later newly signed manager Jorge Jesus promoted Gelson Martins to the first squad handing him his first-team debut against Benfica in the Supertaça Cândido de Oliveira.
It was a gutsy move by Jorge Jesus who had much on the line in the match. That summer Jorge Jesus had done the unthinkable by moving from Benfica to Sporting in a move that very much seemed to be motivated by money—at least that was what the pro-Benfica papers screamed on the front pages. Earning €5 million a season Jorge Jesus was supposed to break Benfica’s hold over Portuguese football.
Although handed a big budget the coach has so far failed in delivering a championship trophy to Sporting. But by giving Gelson Martins his professional debut, Jorge Jesus may have earned some of his salary back, which was increased to €6 million this season, because Gelson Martins has strived under the leadership of Jesus.
Playing 29 games in his first full season, Gelson Martins scored four goals and one assist. One of his most significant upsides was his flexibility. Able to play as a wing-back Gelson Martins received plenty of playing time further back the field, which helped him by becoming a complete player on both ends of the pitch.
It is, however, further up the field where Gelson Martins is more dangerous. Scoring six goals and 13 games in the 2016-17 season Gelson Martins was one of the big reasons why Sporting was just two points shy of winning the league title. Strong and sturdy Gelson Martins has an almost unreal speed at times. It is an attribute that helps him beat defenders down the flank with the ball on foot. At times his speed with the ball is reminiscent of Arjen Robben. Perhaps one adage, however, is Gelson Martins ability to play the first pass.
Gelson Marins – Will Bayern take the risk?
It is likely a skill that he picked up during his first season. When forced deep into his half he can often be found passing an excellent opening ball either down his wing or to find a player more centrally located. To add to this, he is also very good at tracking back displaying a fantastic work rate.
There are, however, some downsides. Right-footed Gelson Martins seldom uses his right foot. Playing on the right-wing Gelson Martins also does not have the Robbenesque ability to cut in and finish a goalscoring move himself. Hence, although he has a powerful shot the 22-year-old winger is often found running down to the byline where many of his flanking runs are lost to defensive lines that sport tall defenders.
It is for that reason that his goalscoring record this season, five goals in 21 games, is relatively low given the level of the Portuguese league. His assists have also dropped somewhat this season. At the same time his speed, technique and playing intelligence would make him a great addition to a Bayern side that is looking to get younger.
Whether a transfer will go through remains to be seen, however. With an exit clause of €60 million and other clubs lurking, Manchester City, Liverpool and Barcelona have shown interest, Bayern will have to stretch themselves financially to sign a talented player from Portugal. Given the recent experience with Renato Sanches, the Bavarians will think long and hard before they decide on Gelson Martins.
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and social media editor at Bundesliga.com. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which will be available in print soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth. Or contact him via email: [email protected]