Arsenal and Pablo Mari: A centre-back, nothing else matters

Arsenal are reportedly set to sign Spanish centre-back Pablo Mari on loan with an option to buy. Without knowing much about the 26-year-old, he is a defender. Beyond that, nothing much else matters.

The January transfer window is not the best time to do business. Two years ago, Premier League teams, of which Arsenal were extremely prominent as they broke their club transfer record to sign Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, spent £430 million on new signings. This year, they have spent only £38 million.

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Increasingly, teams are wising up to the difficulties of signing beneficial players for fair prices in the winter window. And because of that, instead of paying over the odds for average players, they are instead simply choosing not to spend at all.

Nevertheless, there is still some value to be found, and when teams are desperate, as Arsenal are with the current depletion of their defensive options, deals must be done. And so, perhaps slightly tentatively, the Gunners are diving into the transfer window in attempt to ease their defensive crisis, especially at centre-half.

With Calum Chambers out for the rest of the season, Rob Holding and Sokratis struggling for fitness, David Luiz now suspended and Shkodran Mustafi being, well, Shkodran Mustafi, Mikel Arteta is not exactly drowning in capable centre-backs.

And so, the club has attempted to ease the situation a little. As widely reported on Saturday morning, Arsenal are set to sign Spanish centre-back Pablo Mari on a six-month loan deal with an option to buy at the end of the year.

Mari is a 26-year-old centre-back currently at Flamengo, who won the Copa Libertadores in 2019. He has had spells at Deportive la Coruna, Gimnastic, NAC Breda and even Manchester City, though he never made an appearance for the latter. He played in the Club World Cup last year and handled Liverpool relatively well in the final despite Jurgen Klopp selecting his strongest team.

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Quite what Mari can bring to the table is not yet really known. I have only see him play one game, the aforementioned Club World Cup final against Liverpool, and even those that have seen him play plentifully in Brazil struggle to accurately delineate his qualities due to the disparity in levels of the two leagues, the strength of the team he was a part of, and the situation he will encounter at the Emirates, one that is not exactly helpful for central defenders.

Nevertheless, for now, just that Mari is a centre-back who can play some minutes between now and the end of the year is a massive bonus. Such is the depletion of current options for Arteta, anyone who can be thrown into the team is a significant help.

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It is doubtful that Mari will ever be a long-term solution at centre-back. But Arsenal do not need him to be. More investment will come in the summer. For now, they just need another body. Anything beyond that is a bonus.