Flamengo defender Pablo Mari has failed to report for pre-season training with the Brazilian club after hearing that his move to Arsenal has hit a snag. The 26-year-old was forced to fly back to Rio de Janeiro after his club called off negotiations with the Gunners.
The Spaniard is, however, pushing for the transfer to be revived after a Flamengo director alleged that Arsenal have changed the terms of agreement between the two clubs. Mari had undergone his medical with Arsenal and technical director Edu Gaspar was ready to sign the defender on loan with 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 on the books 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 and did not make a first-team appearance for City before joining Flamengo last summer.
New Arsenal manager Mikel 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. Meanwhile, it is reported that Mari is already had his head turned by the prospect of returning to England. The 26-year-old’s family also wants to return to Europe, which has helped push the transfer over the line.
Negotiations are ongoing between Flamengo and Arsenal though the Gunners are also having to consider new targets. Arsenal are also exploring the possibility of a loan deal for Shakhtar Donetsk defender Mykola Matviyenko, with the club wanting to avoid paying a £30m transfer fee outright this month.