26-year-old centre-back Pablo Mari is joining Arsenal from Flamengo in Brazil, on loan with an option to buy.
Flamengo already confirmed the departure of Pablo Mari earlier in the day, beating Arsenal to the punch. They didn’t make any mention of the Gunners, only thanking the defender for everything and adding “the time has come to say goodbye”.
Now, we have the confirmation he’s joining Arsenal. According to reports, the deal is a loan with an option to buy at the end of the season. If the club take that option up, the total cost of the deal will be around €10m.
Sam Dean of the Telegraph suggests the expectation at Arsenal is that it’s likely they will take it up. The size of the loan fee (around £4m) is based on that expectation. At the same time, they always have the option not to if things really go wrong. It’s a safety net.
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.