According to Telegraph, Pablo Mari could become the first player to join Arsenal this January. The Flamengo defender was pictured alongside Edu ahead of his trip to London, and the move could be imminent as we head towards the final week of the January transfer window. Arsenal have reportedly agreed to a transfer fee, though they are hoping to secure a loan deal with an option to buy clause.
Who is Pablo Mari?
A product of the Mallorca youth academy, Mari was a part of the Manchester City squad in 2016 before he eventually left Etihad in the summer, in favour of a €1.7 million move to Flamengo. During his time at Man City, the defender was shipped out to clubs like NAC Breda, Deportivo La Coruna and Girona in season-long loan deals, but he failed to make a single competitive appearance for the Sky Blues.
However, Mari, following his move to Brazil, has flourished at Flamengo under the tutelage of Jorge Jesus. He has become the backbone of the Flamengo defence that dominated the Brazilian Serie A in the 2019 edition, making 22 league appearances. He built a solid defensive partnership alongside the likes of Rodrigo Caio, Rafina and Filipe Luis.
In fact, Mari even became the first Spaniard to win the Copa Libertadores last year, with Flamengo dominating the whole South American club football.
What can he bring to the table?
Primarily known for his imposing 1.93m frame, Mari can be an intimidating presence at the back for any attacker. His height gives him a considerable advantage in physical and aerial duels, meaning he is ideally fitted to the physically astute nature of Premier League football.
The Spaniard is also capable of threading long balls from deeper positions – making it easier for his team to transition the ball out from the back. And as far as his aerial prowess is concerned, the defender has won 2.5 duels per game last season with a success rate of 69%. This makes him a formidable aerial force not only in defence but also in set-pieces.
Is Mari a viable target for Arsenal?
The addition of Mari makes a lot of sense for Arsenal given their defensive woes. The Gunners have struggled with a lack of consistency from premier defenders like David Luiz and Sokratis. This is combined with the injuries woes of Rob Holding and Calum Chambers, who has been ruled out for a significant amount of time due to an ACL problem.
Mari, in that regard, should provide Luiz and Sokratis with more competition in the defensive department. His physical stature, coupled with his technical prowess, could add another dimension to the Arsenal backline.
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