Pablo Mari would probably tell you his first year at Arsenal hasn’t exactly gone to plan but Mikel Arteta says the Spaniard is now being rewarded for his hard work and positive attitude.
Signed on loan from
Fluminense Flamengo this time last year, the 27-year-old spent his first weeks in London getting match fit following the end of his season in Brazil. He didn’t make his debut for the Gunners until early March and was just picking up momentum when the UK went into lockdown.
When he suffered a bad ankle injury after nine minutes of the first game back against former club Manchester City, it felt like the gods were conspiring against him. It took him five months to recover, but he’s now making a big impression at the Emirates.
In fact, excluding the short-lived cameo at the Etihad, the centre-back has made eight appearances for the Gunners in total and we’ve won them all, including a recent run of four consecutive victories.
Having made Pablo’s transfer permanent in the summer, Arteta is obviously pleased.
“We had to throw him in because we had some injuries and suspensions, it probably wasn’t really fair for him because he’s missed a lot of football in the last year,” the boss said after the win over Newcastle.
“But he’s a leader, he’s someone that trains really hard, he’s a professional, a great communicator on the pitch and he gives you some security and stability.”
“I think he’s done really well with Rob [Holding], he was really good again today with David [Luiz], three clean sheets in a row and he fully deserves the chance to play.
“[He was] really positive when he wasn’t playing, when he was injured and when he is playing, he is the same person all the time, trying to help everybody, really professional, really eager to improve to give his best all the time in any capacity and any role and I think he is getting rewarded by his attitude.”
While reports linger that Arsenal will make a right-sided centre-back a priority next summer, Pablo, who plays on the left, looks well-placed to consolidate his place in the manager’s thinking, especially with Sokratis, Shkodran Mustafi and David Luiz likely to leave the club next summer.