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Pablo Mari: I want to stay at Arsenal

Sky Sports News reporter Paul Gilmour discusses with Pablo Mari his Maracana debut with Flamengo, Arsenal future and fishing

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Arsenal’s on-loan defender Pablo Mari hopes to secure a permanent move to north London when the coronavirus crisis is over

As someone who made an assured and winning debut in Brazil's Maracana stadium, it's clear Pablo Mari has the temperament to master the big occasion.  

Four months after his Flamengo debut in July, Mari became the first Spaniard to win the Copa Libertadores before clinching the league title a day later.

Mari earned a place in the Serie A team of the season as Flamengo became the first Brazilian team to win the Libertadores and league in the same year since Pele's Santos in 1963.

"It was like a party every game, just amazing," Arsenal's on-loan defender told Sky Sports News.

Pablo Mari celebrates winning the Copa Libertadores with Flamengo
Image: Pablo Mari celebrates winning the Copa Libertadores with Flamengo

"I was so happy to play there for six months. As a football player (in Brazil) you feel everybody loves you like crazy.

"We arrived back in Rio after the Libertadores and 1.5m people were on the streets waiting for us. It was crazy. Until this moment I had never won anything so it was a special six months."

In December, Mari faced the formidable Liverpool front three as his Flamengo side lost out narrowly to "the best team in the world" in the Club World Cup final.

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DOHA, QATAR - DECEMBER 21: Sadio Mane of Liverpool competes for the ball with Pablo Mari of CR Flamengo ,during the FIFA Club World Cup Final Match between Liverpool FC and CR Flamengo at Khalifa International Stadium on December 21, 2019 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by MB Media/Getty Images)
Image: Mari played for Flamengo in the FIFA Club World Cup Final against Liverpool

The past year has represented an upturn in fortunes for the 26-year-old after not making a single appearance for Manchester City - instead spending three years on loan at Girona, NAC and Deportivo La Coruna - before joining Flamengo permanently.

His spell there ended when Arsenal came calling in January and secured his services on loan until the end of the season with an option to buy.

He made his Premier League debut last month in the final game before lockdown measures were implemented - a clean sheet in the home win against West Ham.

"We played well. I have a lot of things to learn but I think my football can be really good with the Arsenal," Mari said.

"I hope the club and I can go at the end (of the season) with good things to do the permanent transfer. We will see what happens because at the moment with the virus it is difficult."

Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta tested positive for coronavirus
Image: Mari is full of praise for Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta

Mari was full of praise for head coach Mikel Arteta and feels he is already noticing improvements in his game.

"He has done really well so far. I'm really happy to work with him," he said.

"He has helped me with my weaknesses and improved the strengths. I hope I can work with him a lot of years."

As a child, Mari began playing football from the age of six and as he grew older his parents took him to training at Real Mallorca's training base. He was asked to name his favourite Arsenal players from childhood.

Pablo Mari with Robert Pires during an Arsenal training session at London Colney
Image: Mari with Robert Pires, one of his childhood heroes

"When I was was young I watched Pires, Bergkamp, Henry, Senderos. I liked them so much."

Settling into London life has been easy for Mari but he's yet to take up one of his favourite pastimes outside of football in the UK.

"I like to fish. I always go when I'm on holidays in Spain. I go to the beach with some family. I like to go there because I'm alone and I can think. I've not had a chance in England yet but I want to in future.

"I love England and so does my wife. The centre of London is unbelievable. We are really happy here."

As for his career ambitions?

"To win the Premier League or try to go to the Champions League with the Arsenal. Also to go to the national team."

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