Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal have begun the process to buy on-loan defender Pablo Mari, according to a report in Coluna Do Fla.
The report claims that the Gunners have made contact with Flamengo to inform them that they will activate the purchase clause in Mari’s loan deal.
In January, Arsenal reportedly paid a €5million (£4.2million) fee to take Mari on loan until the end of the season, and signing him permanently would take the total of the deal to €16million (£13.5million).
The 26-year-old joined Flamengo last year from Manchester City – where Arteta was assistant coach – having been on their books since 2016 but whose only senior action came from loan stints at Girona, NAC Breda and Deportivo La Coruna.
Mari made 30 appearances for the Brazilian club, scoring three goals and registering an assist (Transfermarkt) en route to the Brazilian Serie A title, the Copa Libertadores, and the Club World Cup final.
South American football expert Tim Vickery spoke very highly about Mari, in conversation with talkSPORT, describing him as “the most important player” in that dominant Flamengo team, and “superb”.
Some Flamengo fans were especially upset to lose him when he made the move to Arsenal – here is some of the reaction from the day:
He is better than David Luiz. Take care of him!!!!
Good luck, Pablito!!!
— Bernardo Chapermannᶜʳᶠ (@Bernardo_UBZ) January 29, 2020
Very talented center back. Played really well last semester.
— Leandro Reis (@leandro_jreis) January 29, 2020
To Arsenal fans that don’t know who he is. Well… we didn’t neither when he signed for Flamengo haha But he surprised every one in Brazil. And i think he’s gonna do the same in London. Great player
Take care of him
— Ǝᵈᵈʸ (@annoyinb0i) January 29, 2020
He looks more like Gérard Pique. He’s tall and his game is based on positioning.
— Marcos Pereira (@themarcos96) January 29, 2020
It speaks volumes about Mari’s quality and attitude that Arsenal are reportedly looking to sign the player even though he hasn’t made his Gunners first-team debut.
Nonetheless, Arteta knows his fellow Spaniard from their time at Manchester City, and the player’s efforts on the training ground would likely have impressed the head coach even further.
The way things are going, Mari could well become Arsenal’s first summer signing, and with height and the ability to play out from the back as a left-footed defender, he has plenty to offer the Emirates Stadium side.