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Gabriel Martinelli names his pick for the 2024 Ballon d'Or

Gabriel Martinelli names his pick for the 2024 Ballon d'Or
Gabriel Martinelli names his pick for the 2024 Ballon d'Or

Arsenal winger Gabriel Martinelli has thrown his support behind fellow Brazilian Vinicius Junior in the race for the Ballon d'Or.

Vinicius is among the early favourites to win the prize this summer after starring in Real Madrid's run to La Liga and Champions League glory, but faces significant competition from teammate Jude Bellingham if he is to get his hands on the award.

Speaking to the press on Saturday, Martinelli insisted Vinicius is the deserving winner of the prestigious Ballon d'Or.

"Of course, it is a great pride to be playing with him," he said. "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."

Vinicius has also received significant support from Brazilian icons Rivaldo and Ronaldo, the latter of whom named the Madrid winger as the "best player in the world".

"He's a very dedicated boy," Rivaldo told ESPN. "He arrived at Real Madrid and went to Real Madrid B to learn. He played a few games and we could see that he still needed a bit of time to learn how to score. And he learnt! He trained hard and dedicated himself. Today, you can see that he has a much easier time scoring.

"So Vini is a player to be congratulated. He deserves the Ballon d'Or. Of course, there's nothing better for him than to secure the award once and for all than by winning the Copa America now, right? Today he already deserves the award, but if he wins the Copa America, even better."