North London club Arsenal have announced the loan signing of Pablo Mari from Flamengo with an option to buy to become manager Mikel Arteta’s first signing in the January transfer window. The Gunners got the Spaniard on loan for an improved fee of around £4million with a view to a permanent £7.5million deal.
The Spanish 26-year-old was a vital part of Flamengo’s double-winning season in 2019, helping the Brazilian side to the league title and Copa Libertadores triumph. He was also part of the squad that lost 1-0 to Liverpool after-extra-time in the final of the FIFA Club World Cup.
Mari spent three years with Manchester City between 2016 and 2019 while Arteta was Pep Guardiola’s assistant. The defender did spend all three seasons out on loan at Girona, NAC Breda and Deportivo La Coruna. He did not make a first-team appearance for City before joining Flamengo last summer.
Spaniard had flown to London last Saturday with Arsenal’s technical director Edu Gaspar to have his medical. He, however, returned to London on Wednesday to put pen to paper after Flamengo had given him permission to travel back.
“When I spoke to my agent, it was a big thing that Arsenal were interested in me,” Mari told the Arsenal website.
“This is one of the best clubs in the world, so I’m absolutely delighted to be joining. I’m really looking forward to playing in this jersey and helping my team.
“Right now I want to focus on the day-to-day side of things. I think we need to put the plans to one side for now because the most important thing is to take things one day at a time and focus on achieving short-term goals.
“We need to change the dynamic around the team, so the short-term objectives are the most important thing. As I’ve said, we have Mikel’s ideas, aligned with the club, and we need to perform very well to change things.”
Also speaking to the club website, technical director Edu said: “Pablo is an experienced player who will provide us with additional defensive quality. 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 Mikel and his coaching team, we are all looking forward to seeing Pablo in an Arsenal shirt.”
Arteta is desperate to add some steel to his defence after some defensive errors at the back which has cost the team some points this season. Calum Chambers’ long-term injury and David Luiz’s three matches suspension following his red card against Chelsea on Tuesday night has fast-tracked the club’s search for a new defender.
Also, the stuttering form of Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis – along with Rob Holding returning from a serious injury – has exacerbated the situation, prompting a need to act quickly with just one week left of the window.