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Flamengo defender Pablo Mari lands in London ahead of completing loan move to Arsenal with option to buy

11:38 GMT 25/01/2020
Pablo Mari, Arsenal logo
The Spanish centre-back spent three years with Manchester City before moving to Brazil last summer

Arsenal are closing in on a deal for Spanish defender Pablo Mari.

The Gunners have been searching for a new centre-back throughout the transfer window and are now close to landing Mari on loan following successful talks with Brazilian side Flamengo over the past 24 hours.

The defender landed in England on Saturday to finalise the transfer, which will include an option to buy permanently at the end of the season.

Asked by Goal upon arrival whether he was excited to join Arsenal, Mari replied: "Yeah, of course!"

The 26-year-old is well known to Gunners head coach Mikel Arteta, having spent three years at Manchester City before joining Flamengo last summer.

In under six months, Mari helped the Brazilian giants win the Copa Liberadoes for the first time in 38 years as they fought back to beat River Plate 2-1 in the final.

A day later they were also crowned league champions. It was the first time a Brazilian team has won both the league and the Libertadores in the same year since Pele’s Santos did it in 1963.

And Mari played a big part in both successes, featuring 22 times in the league and five times in the Libertadores run - including the full 90 minutes in the final.

Arsenal hope to wrap up a deal imminently, with the defender expected to undergo a medical over the weekend in London.

Speaking on Friday, Arteta was asked about the chances of Arsenal bringing anyone in before the end of this month’s transfer deadline.

“I’m not going to be discussing any transfer links publicly,” he said. “It's something that we are trying to do internally and when we have news we will communicate with you guys.

“We've been looking at different positions. Obviously, since I joined we lost Calum [Chambers], it's true that at the back we've been short. But there are other positions as well.

“At the moment, I am 50-50  because this transfer window is very, very complicated. I only want to bring somebody in if I'm really convinced that he can really improve the level that we have.”

Mari started his career with Mallorca in Spain before moving to Gimnastic in 2013. He spent three seasons there before joining Manchester City.

The defender had loans spells with Girona, NAC and Deportivo La Coruna before leaving the Etihad for Flamengo last summer.