Arsenal have confirmed the loan signing of Spanish defender Pablo Mari from Brazilian side Flamengo.
The 26-year-old joins initially until the end of the season, paying Flamengo a fee of around €5m, although the Gunners have an option to make the deal permanent. In the process, he becomes the first signing of the Mikel Arteta era.
Mari has an interesting CV. He started his career with Mallorca and spent three seasons with Gimnastic before being signed by Manchester City in 2016.
He was immediately loaned to umbrella club Girona for a year and then went on to further year-long stints with Dutch side NAC Breda and Deportivo La Coruna. He will have crossed paths with Arteta during his spell in Manchester but he never played for City’s first team.
Last year, he moved to Flamengo for around £1 million – becoming just the third Spaniard to play for the club. He helped the Rio giants to domestic and continental success picking up Campeonato Brasileiro and Copa Libertadores titles and recently featured in the extra-time defeat to Liverpool in the final of the Club World Cup.
At 6’3, he’s an imposing figure and he’s already fluent in English so communication with his teammates will not be an issue.
The Gunners have been linked with numerous centre-backs since Calum Chambers was ruled out for the foreseeable future following ACL surgery.
Jerome Boateng, Dayot Upamecano and Mykola Matviyenko were all mentioned as possible targets but it looks as though things have swung in Pablo Mari’s favour thanks to Edu’s connections in Brazil, Arteta’s first-hand knowledge of him and the fact his agent, Arturo Canales, is a close associate of Sanllehi.
Welcome to Arsenal, Pablo.