The January transfer window looks set to be heavily centred around outgoings for Arsenal as the fringe members of Mikel Arteta’s squad either leave in search of minutes, or are kindly asked to.
Any squad rebuilding phase at a club takes time to complete and gradual movement in and out of the club happens over various windows, with Arsenal already seeing a huge turnover of players throughout the manager’s reign.
Players such as Sead Kolasinac, Eddie Nketiah and Mohamed Elneny are already due to leave in the summer at the latest, while other members of the group like Calum Chambers and Bernd Leno will likely be seeking their own moves away at some stage.
Someone who might fit into that latter bracket is Pablo Mari.
Arsenal defender Pablo Mari subject of transfer interest from former club Flamengo in a deal that might be best left until the end of the season
Gone from being a serviceable central defender who was rightly challenging Gabriel for a starting berth last season to someone who is nowhere near matchday squads is quite the turnaround. His form across pre-season was sketchy, and he followed that through into the Premier League where he’s looked hopelessly off the pace.
Brought in from Flamengo in the 2020 winter window on an initial loan deal, his stock at Arsenal has dipped exponentially and being 28 years old leaves him little room to wrestle his way back into contention.
As per Brazilian journalist Gustavo Henrique, the Spaniard’s former side are keen on bringing him back to Rio de Janeiro in one of the upcoming windows.
"“It’s evident that Flamengo wants the player to return, however, they have to wait for the window to open,” he said, via Torcedores.“I talked to an important person at the club who told me the following: ‘Gustavo, how can I say that Flamengo don’t want Marí’s return? It is evident that Flamengo wants it, but there are many details that need to be fixed for him to return. Today, we still have no contact with Arsenal on this matter. But we don’t rule out anything’. So let’s wait for news.”"
Without a single minute of football since September, all Mari can realistically hope for over the rest of the campaign is appearances in the FA Cup. He had a place in the Carabao Cup team, but with that now entering the quarter-final stage Arteta may be more keen on relying on his more trusted lieutenants.
However, after Gabriel, there are no other left footed centre-backs in the first team. It’s something Arteta favours, hence why he signed Mari in the first place, and if something were to happen to Gabriel then the person he is most likely to fall back on is Mari.
Would Arsenal welcome a sale? In the summer there is little reason to suggest they wouldn’t. By that time William Saliba will have returned (he isn’t left footed, of course) and in order to make something back on their £7m investment they would surely be open to offers.
Letting him go in the winter may be risky, but a lot depends on how serious the interest is from Flamengo, if indeed they truly want him as much as the journalist suggests, and how much they’re willing to pay.