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Arsenal sign Pablo Mari from Flamengo

The Spanish centre-back becomes Arsenal's first signing since Mikel Arteta's appointment as head coach

New Arsenal signing Pablo Mari
Image: Pablo Mari has joined Arsenal on loan

Arsenal have signed Flamengo defender Pablo Mari on an initial loan deal with an option to buy.

The deal for the Spaniard is worth up to £12m, with Arsenal paying a £4m loan fee upfront while having the option to make the move permanent for £8m in the summer.

The 26-year-old becomes Mikel Arteta's first signing since taking over as Arsenal head coach in December.

"When I spoke to my agent, it was a big thing that Arsenal were interested in me," Mari told the Arsenal website.

"This is one of the best clubs in the world, so I'm absolutely delighted to be joining. I'm really looking forward to playing in this jersey and helping my team.

"Right now I want to focus on the day-to-day side of things. I think we need to put the plans to one side for now because the most important thing is to take things one day at a time and focus on achieving short-term goals.

"We need to change the dynamic around the team, so the short-term objectives are the most important thing. As I've said, we have Mikel's ideas, aligned with the club, and we need to perform very well to change things."

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Pablo Mari is close to joining Arsenal from Flamengo
Image: Arsenal have the option to make the move permanent in the summer

Flamengo have thanked Mari for his contribution to their Copa Libertadores and Brazilian Serie A triumphs last season and said "the time has come to say goodbye" on social media.

Mari joined Flamengo last year from Manchester City, where he had been since 2016, after loan stints at Girona, NAC Breda and Deportivo La Coruna.

Who is Arsenal new boy Pablo Mari?

Analysis by Sky Sports' Adam Bate

Pablo Mari
Image: Could Pablo Mari be the man to help solve Arsenal's defensive problems?

For Pablo Mari, 2019 was a year of spectacular sporting highs and lows.

As recently as June, he was the man who missed the chance that cost Deportivo La Coruna promotion back to La Liga. By November, he was a champion of Brazil and South America, being feted by Flamengo fans as a key factor in the club's first league title in 30 years.

But for Arsenal supporters, the fascination now is what could lie ahead for the Spanish defender in 2020. Mikel Arteta, who moved to Manchester City in the same summer as Mari in 2016, wants to make the player his first signing as a manager. Edu Gaspar, the club's Brazilian sporting director, appears to like what he has seen too.

Such informed judges should be enough to encourage supporters but Arsenal fans could be forgiven for being unsure of what to expect. Some would say that anyone would be an upgrade on the hapless pairing of Shkodran Mustafi and David Luiz. Others remember that both were presented as the solution upon their arrival at the club.

Did Arsenal very nearly jeopardise the deal?

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South American football expert Tim Vickery believes Mikel Arteta can prove his former club Manchester City wrong after signing Pablo Mari from Flamengo.

Analysis from South American football expert Tim Vickery

"What's been reported here in Brazil is that Arsenal tried to bully them a little bit. I don't think that was a particularly wise tactic.

"Flamengo are rich - they don't need to sell, they didn't want to sell this player and they weren't up for being bullied. This move has happened because the player really wanted it to happen.

"For Pablo Mari, remember he was picked up by Manchester City in 2016 but didn't get the chance to show his talents with them. Perhaps they've missed a beat with this one. Certainly Mikel, their former assistant, thinks that way as it's now in his capacity as Arsenal boss that he's brought Mari in.

"What Jesus brought in when he arrived at Flamengo was to deploy a high defensive line, which is not very common in Brazil. He didn't have domestic Brazilian centre-backs who could do it so he pulled in his European connections and Mari solved that problem for him. It could've gone wrong.

"He came in raw without a pre-season and was thrown into the deep end but he organised the high line and defended really well.

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"He is an asset for Arsenal, but he won't stand out like he did for Flamengo. The outlay is relatively small for the calibre of player they're getting.

"Certainly from what he did in the past few months, he deserves his chance in the Premier League."

Could you sign Pablo Mari?

Pablo Mari arrives in Sky Sports Fantasy Football at a mere £8.2m. Will he make his way into your starting XI? Play and amend your team here.

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