Arsenal have signed Pablo Mari on loan from Flamengo for the remainder of the 2019-20 campaign.
The deal was confirmed via the club’s official Twitter account on Wednesday. Arsenal will reportedly pay a $5 million (£4 million) loan fee, with a $10 million (£8 million) option to buy in the summer, according to Sky Sports
David Ornstein of The Athletic first noted the option to buy. The club are also said to be considering another possible loan signing before the January transfer window closes.
“Pablo is an experienced player who will provide us with additional defensive quality,” Arsenal technical director Edu said in the club release. “We have been monitoring Pablo’s career for a while, and we are very pleased to have reached agreement with Flamengo for him to join us initially until the end of our season. Together with [head coach] Mikel [Arteta] and his coaching team, we are all looking forward to seeing Pablo in an Arsenal shirt.”
Mari’s acquisition will give the Gunners some crucial depth in defence, which is an area they’ve struggled in for much of the campaign.
Calum Chambers is out for the season with an ACL injury, while the likes of David Luiz, Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Shkodran Mustafi have struggled to show any sort of consistency in a challenging campaign. Rob Holding has also been struggling to regain fitness following his own ACL injury last season
Arteta will be hoping that Mari can bring some consistency to the base of the team, having made major improvements during his time with Flamengo.
The defender was on Manchester City‘s books during Arteta’s spell at the club as assistant manager, although he never played a senior game under Pep Guardiola in three years. After a series of loans, Mari made a move to Brazil in 2019 and has kicked on.
He played an important role in Flamengo winning the domestic title and the Copa Libertadores, offering authority and composure from his berth in central defence.
While he’s shone for the Brazilian outfit, the Premier League will provide Mari with a different challenge, with the tempo of the game quicker and the forwards he will come up against more physical. With that in mind, it makes sense for Arsenal to take a look at him on loan before deciding on whether to make the signing permanent.
Without further ado, here are 10 things you need to know about Pablo Mari.
Pablo Mari is a Commanding Center Back
The defender is a colossus at the heart of the Flamengo defense, averaging 2.9 clearances, one tackle, one interception per game. He is a reliable outlet at the back for the Brazilian outfit and his presence instilled fears in the faces of opposition forwards.
Pablo Mari is Left Footed
Like Aymeric Laporte in Manchester City, having a left footed center back playing alongside a right footed partner gives better balance to the defense. It’s not like there’s a problem having two left footers or two right footers pair with each other but in Arsenal’s case, Pablo Mari would forge a partnership with the experienced lads like Sokratis and David Luiz.
He has Won is Fair Share of Trophies
Last season was successful for Panlo Mari as he won the Campeonato Serie A and Copa Libertadores (South American version of the Champions League) with Flamengo. Pablo Mari was an ever present at the back for his side, forging a telepathic partnership with Rogerio Caio.
Familiar with the Premier League
You would be surprised to know that Pablo Mari’s performances in La Liga second division side, Gimnastic, earned him a transfer to Manchester City, but the English giants loaned him to Girona, NAC Breda and Deportivo de la Coruna to gain experience before he was transferred to Flamengo.
Pablo Mari is a Ball Playing Defender
Like David Luiz, Pablo Mari is very comfortable with the ball at his feet. Last season, he averaged 3.7 long balls per game, 0.2 key passes and had a passing accuracy of 87.8%. This essentially means that we can build from the back with Pablo Mari just like what we have been doing with David Luiz.
He is a BFG
At 6′ 3″, Pablo Mari has an intimidating frame, which will come in handy against opposition forwards in the Premier League. That height will also be useful from attacking set pieces.
Pablo Mari is Adept in Keeping a High Line
In his time at Flamengo, Pablo Mari and his defensive partner, Rogerio Caio, kept a high line and became accustomed to playing that way. However, they transitioned to playing deep as well, like their performance in the Copa Libertadores finals against Argentine juggernauts, River Plate.
He has had some European Football Experience
Mallorca, Gimnastic, NAC Breda, Girona and Deportivo – these are clubs that Pablo Mari has played for an remained consistent.
His Performances Earned Him a Place in the Brazilian Serie A Team of the Year
His performances were instrumental to his team as they won the national league in Brazil. This earned him a place in the Team of the Year,
Pablo Mari is the Antonym for Skhodran Mustafi
Pablo Mari does not dive into tackles like our brain dead German, as he prefer to read the game and calculate well before making an interception.