Well, that was some turnaround. After talks had stalled between Arsenal and Brazilian side Flamengo over the transfer of center back Pablo Mari, it appeared the potential move was dead in the water. Mari had returned to Brazil and been pictured in training for Flamengo. However, things picked up overnight, once again, kind of out of the blue. Arsenal twitter were tracking a flight from Brazil to London, and this morning, the Gunners have a new centerback.
Pablo Mari is set to join us on loan until the end of the season.— Arsenal (@Arsenal) January 29, 2020
Leave your welcome messages for @PabloMV5 below!
According to David Ornstein, the deal is a loan with an option to buy, which is what the Gunners were seeking when the deal broke down earlier this week because Flamengo had wanted an obligation to buy. Football.London’s David Benge reports that the deal is for £4million, with the option to buy costing an additional £8million.
Mari is a left-footed centerback, the first primarily left-footed player the Gunners have signed at the position since Thomas Vermaelen in 2009. He is tall (6’4), strong in the air, and reportedly at least a good enough passer to get by in Mikel Arteta’s system. Mari is comfortable playing in a high-line, pressing system and reportedly very good at organizing the defense, which would make him a good fit in North London
When he appeared from seemingly out of nowhere onto Arsenal’s radar earlier this week, it didn’t take long for people to connect the dots. Mari had been on Manchester City’s books from 2016-2019, overlapping with Mikel Arteta. Despite being on loan for the duration of his time with The Cityzens, it undoubtedly gave the new Arsenal manager an intimate understanding of Mari and skill-set.
While there is no definitive link between the untimely injury to Shkodran Mustafi against Bournemouth in the FA Cup (which turns out to not be as serious as feared) and the loan deal, the still comes at a good time for the Gunners. With long term injuries to Calum Chambers Kieran Tierney, the recurring injuries to the likes of Sead Kolasinac and Rob Holding, and the simple fact that David Luiz and Sokratis have to play, Arsenal’s back line is in desperate need of reinforcements.