Arsenal on the verge of signing Flamengo's Pablo Mari - but who is the Spanish centre-back?

Pablo Mari was a key man in Flamengo's defence in 2019

Arsenal are on the verge of signing centre-back Pablo Mari from Flamengo.

Reports in Brazil have stated that the Gunners will sign the Spaniard for around £7.5m, while Goal's Arsenal correspondent Charles Watts believes it will be a loan deal with an option to buy.

Regardless, it seems Mikel Arteta is actively trying to remedy his injury-plagued and leaky defence going into the tail-end of the 2019/20 season.

But who is Mari? He's a name that will probably not ring many bells across England, despite the fact he was signed by Manchester City in 2016.

The 26-year-old never made an appearance under Pep Guardiola and opted to leave Europe altogether in 2019, a decision which really has bore fruit.

Mari was a key man in Flamengo's hugely successful season in 2019, as they scooped the Brazilian league title and the Copa Libertadores.

The Spaniard played the full 90 minutes against River Plate in that final and did the same in the finale of the Club World Cup against Liverpool.

Any defender that can contribute to keeping the Reds' attack at bay for the majority of a match deserves some recognition, with Roberto Firmino scoring an injury-time winner in the game.

According to WhoScored, Mari's key strength is blocking the ball, while his weakness is worryingly his tackling.

Mari in action for Flamengo

His style of play is said to be typified by playing long balls and not diving into tackles - which suggests he may not be as braindead as Shkodran Mustafi.

At 6'4", he poses a serious threat from set-pieces and Mari is left-footed, a physical aspect which Arsenal's central defensive partnership has been missing for some years now.

Arsenal writer and Brazilian football expert Tim Stillman tweeted his thoughts on the deal, writing: "Stylistically, Mari makes sense. Flamengo play aggressive, possession based football with a high defensive line and Mari is left footed (unlike any of Arsenal’s other centre backs). Not sure what his ceiling is though, decent but not a world beater imo."

Arteta's first signing as Arsenal boss sounds like it possesses few risks and who knows, it could be a masterstroke.

Arteta applauds Arsenal fans

The last player they signed from Brazilian shores was Gabriel Martinelli...

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