Arsenal given Leno boost but lose Martinelli to injury

LONDON (AFP) – Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno’s (pic below) knee injury is not as bad as feared, but the Gunners suffered another blow on Tuesday as Brazilian forward Gabriel Martinelli was ruled out for the rest of the season.

Leno suffered a ligament sprain rather than cruciate ligament damage in last Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at Brighton that the club confirmed would keep him out for four to six weeks.

The German is still expected to miss the rest of the campaign, but should be fit for the start of next season.

“At least we know the cruciate ligaments are not damaged. It was the biggest fear at the start,” said Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta.

“He was more positive and in less pain today so that is good news.”

Martinelli, 19, has scored 10 goals in an impressive debut season.

“We got really bad news again yesterday in training. In the last action he (Martinelli) got hit by another player, he damaged his knee.

“The doctor hasn’t seen the extent of the injury but it is not looking good at all. We don’t know (how long) but it is looking months.”

Arsenal’s return to action has been beset by injuries as Granit Xhaka and Pablo Mari had to be replaced inside the first 20 minutes in a 3-0 defeat at Manchester City last week.

On a positive side, veteran defender David Luiz has signed a new one-year deal with the Gunners, it was announced yesterday.

The 33-year-old Brazil international joined Arsenal last year from Chelsea on an initial 12-month deal.

He was heavily criticised after being sent off in last week’s 3-0 loss to Manchester City.

But Arsenal Technical Director Edu hailed Luiz’s influence on and off the pitch.

“David is a really important player for us,” he told the club website. “He has played most of our matches this season and has been important for the team. His passing, his communication with the team on and off the pitch – he helps everyone.”

The London-based side have also moved to make the temporary moves of fellow defenders Pablo Mari and Cedric Soares into permanent arrangements, while midfielder Dani Ceballos’ loan from Real Madrid has been extended until the end of the 2019/20 season.

“I am really happy that we will have these players in our squad for the future,” said Edu.