Arsenal are set to sign Flamengo centre-back Pablo Mari on a six-month loan. The 26-year-old is the ideal short-term depth piece.
After a week of toing and froing, Arsenal are seemingly set to land their man. On Wednesday morning, it has been widely reported that Flamengo centre-back Pablo Mari is on his way to north London to finalise a six-month loan deal with the Gunners with an option to buy.
The deal has been ongoing for some time with the two clubs sticking on the terms of the payment. Flamengo were standing firm on a permanent deal, but Arsenal, due to their financial restrictions after a hefty summer outlay, were unable to secure such a transfer and requested a loan with an option to buy. It seems that Flamengo have bowed.
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Mari represents the ideal quick-fix solution to the Gunners’ pressing centre-back needs. An experienced 26-year-old defender, who has played in Spain and Brazil, speaks English thanks to his time with Manchester City, even if he never made an appearance for the Premier League champions, and has the ability to slot straight into the side at short notice, this is the perfect type of signing that the club should have been pursuing in the January window.
At present, Mikel Arteta has four ‘fit’ centre-backs to call upon. Of those four, Rob Holding has looked short of true match fitness all season and was very rusty in his brief cameo against Bournemouth on Monday night, Shkodran Mustafi is dealing with a sprained ankle, Sokratis only made his return to availability against Bournemouth, while David Luiz has been suspended.
More than just availability, however, these players are simply not very good. Only Luiz has shown any capacity for high-level centre-back play this season, and we all know what he is capable of when put under pressure. Arteta does not have any vaguely reliable central defenders to call upon. That is where Mari enters the equation.
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What is crucial, however, are the terms of the deal. By signing Mari on loan, they are not committing themselves to a long-term financial ploy. If Mari does not work out, they can simply return him to Flamengo in the summer knowing that no sustained damage was done. This way, when William Saliba arrives and more investment in a new centre-back comes, the team is not hamstrung by having too many centre-backs on the books.
Conversely, by including an option-to-buy clause in the deal, which will be less than £10 million, if Mari arrives in north London and shines, proving that he can be a serviceable defender beyond the end of the season, Arsenal have a very affordable and guaranteed option to exercise to sign him.
Arsenal have signed a capable player who can fill a position of severe need, while also preparing themselves for any eventuality based on the quality on his performances. It is the perfect quick-fix transfer.