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Mikel Arteta confirms ill-advised Pablo Marí intent

Mikel Arteta has confirmed that he wants Arsenal to make Pablo Marí’s loan deal permanent, despite the Brazilian’s recent injury.

Despite only making three appearances for the Gunners and sustaining a “significant injury” in his most recent outing, Pablo Marí’s Arsenal journey looks set to continue after Mikel Arteta expressed his desire for the club to complete a permanent move for the Brazilian centre-back.

On Friday night, new reports and quotes from Brazil claimed that the club had agreed to activate the purchase option in Pablo Marí’s loan deal. These assertions were later denied by sources at Arsenal, but Arteta was not afraid to voice his thoughts about the prospective transfer in his pre-Brighton press conference.

“Yes,” said Arsenal’s head coach, when asked directly if he wants to complete a permanent move for the 26-year-old.

Whilst I am pleased that Arteta has thrown his support behind the player and the likely forthcoming deal, I still have my concerns. I cannot escape the feeling that we are paying good money – considering the current financial uncertainty – for another average centerback. We already have several average central defenders who figure to be at the club next season (Rob Holding, Calum Chambers, Konstantinos Mavropanos), buying another would be counter-intuitive, especially as the position has been persistently problematic.

There is widespread hope among supporters that William Saliba will become a fixture in the defence for years to come. Nonetheless, the club must do all that they can to help him succeed. Finding the 19-year-old a capable partner will ease the pressure on his shoulders.

Although the Gunners paid good money to secure Marí’s temporary arrival, the purchase option indicated that the club was uncertain as to whether he was capable of succeeding in the Premier League. Structuring the deal in such a manner was wise, as the 26-year-old Marí had never started a game in a major European league. The option provided the club with an opportunity to properly evaluate the defender, an opportunity which they no longer have. For all intents and purposes, the club is purchasing an unknown commodity.

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His debut against Portsmouth was perfectly fine, but his West Ham United performance was a little concerning. He struggled against Michail Antonio’s athleticism and physicality and looked uncertain on a number of occasions. Although our sample size has been admittedly small, there has been nothing to suggest that is he anything more than an average defender.

According to Charles Watts, Arsenal paid Flamengo an initial loan fee of £4.25 million and would have to pay £8m – in several installments – to secure his rights beyond this season. Again, £12m (without considering wages and possible agent fees) is a lot of money to waste in the current climate.

Extending Marí’s stay in London would be ill-advised and highlights poor planning and a lack of adaptability on behalf of the corrupt Arsenal hierarchy. For around £15m, Arsenal could have signed Mohammed Salisu (21) or Axel Disasi (22), two promising talents who have enjoyed success in reputable leagues.

There would be less division amongst the fanbase had Arsenal decided to purchase Marí outright in January. The option provided them with flexibility, flexibility they look set to squander by signing yet another seemingly mediocre player. More mediocrity is the last thing that Arsenal Football Club needs right now.

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Signing Pablo Marí permanently would be expedient and ill-advised. Although Arsenal are desperate to improve their defensive personnel, the acquisition of the Brazilian will not move the needle.

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