London-bound again: Pablo Mari is set to complete a move to Arsenal
Mikel Arteta is edging closer to his first signing as Arsenal head coach after a breakthrough in negotiations with Flamengo over a deal for defender Pablo Mari.
The Gunners have been on the hunt for a new center-back throughout the January transfer window after Calum Chambers was ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee injury.
Mari has emerged as the club’s main target and a deal is now close to being finalised after a breakthrough in negotiations overnight.
Arsenal have an agreement in principle to take the Spaniard on loan for the rest of the season, with an option to make it permanent in the summer.
The finer details of the deal are still to be finalised and, given how a move for Mari has twist and turned over the past few days, the Gunners will be relieved when negotiations are wrapped up.
A move for the center-back had initially looked like it could be completed last weekend when he flew into London with Arsenal’s technical director, Edu.
Mari held positive talks with the club before flying back to Brazil on Monday, but agreeing a deal with Flamengo has proved more problematic.
The Brazilian club had been reluctant to loan out the center-back without an obligation for Arsenal to buy him in the summer and it has caused negotiations to drag.
A deal, however, is now set to be concluded as the Gunners have offered to put down a larger amount of money up-front - with reports in Brazil estimating it to be as much as £4million.
Flamengo themselves are already preparing for the departure of Mari and have signed centre-back Leo Pereira from Club Athletico Paranaense for around £6.5m.
Pereira is a like-for-like replacement for Mari and his arrival paves the way for the 26-year-old to move to Emirates Stadium.
The Spaniard is now due in London after being given permission by Flamengo to travel back to the capital to complete his move.
Mari will provide a boost for Arsenal’s defensive options, which are stretched at the minute with Chambers and now Shkodran Mustafi out injured.
Mustafi suffered an ankle strain during Monday’s win over Bournemouth and while the diagnosis is not as bad as first feared, he still faces a spell on the sidelines.
Mari is an attractive solution for Arsenal as he arrives on loan with no obligation to make the deal permanent.
The centre-back, who spent three years at Manchester City before joining Flamengo last summer, also fits Arteta’s style of play due to his ability on the ball.
Crucially, Mari is also best utilised on the left side of a centre-back pairing - which is an area Arsenal have been targeting.