Manchester City, Valencia and Sevilla were all following Pablo Mari of Flamengo last month, with the defender now set to join Arsenal.
Arsenal are closing in on ex-Manchester City centre-back Mari on a loan deal with an option to buy, per various reports.
Though the 26-year-old didn’t make an appearance for City in his three years there – spending the time on loan – they considered a move to buy him back. That’s according to reports from Spain (via Sport Witness).
Manchester City joined Sevilla and Valencia in showing an interest in their former player. At the time, Mari told his agent to put any negotiations on hold until after the Club World Cup. Now, he looks close to Arsenal instead.
Sport Witness also previously wrote about whether Pep Guardiola should have given Mari a chance. They hailed his ‘huge’ impact with Flamengo, becoming a leader at the club.
UOL’s Mauro Cezar Pereira wrote that it was the kind of signing Flamengo need to make more of.
With any luck, the incoming loanee will show City what they missed out on. For now, we’ll just wait on the official announcement.
Who is Pablo Mari?
A 26-year-old Spanish centre-back who was playing in Brazil for Flamengo. He won the Copa Libertadores with the team last year, the highest level of competition in South American football. They also won the Brazilian Serie A.
On an individual level, he made the Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A Team of the Year in 2019.
Brazilian journalist Tiago Cordeiro told Chris Davison Mari is a great passer, very tall but agile nonetheless. He isn’t the fastest defender, but he anticipates danger well. When he first left Europe he was a little clumsy but is growing out of that.
Tim Stillman adds that Mari suits the Arsenal style, as Flamengo play aggressive possession-based football with a high defensive line.
The centre-back is also left-footed, which is a boost for the Gunners’ squad. As a word of warning, Stillman notes he’s not sure Mari is a ‘world-beater’.
Gustavo Villani adds that Mari played ‘very well’ with Flamengo. He praised the defender’s positioning and the fact he impressed despite joining in relative silence.
Undoubtedly, the centre-back is strong in the air, thanks to his height. Mari has five goals since the start of the 2018/19 season, four from headers on set-pieces. His inexperience in Europe’s top-five leagues makes him a bit of a wildcard purchase though.