Arteta invites Wenger to return to Arsenal in some capacity
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Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta could be left red-faced as Pablo Mari, a player he signed in 2020, flirts with an exit from north London. The Brazilian is linked with a return to former club Flamengo as he struggles to make his mark on the Gunners’ defence, owing to the broadly positive form of Arteta’s starting quartet.
Arsenal had been notable for their defensive solidity in recent weeks, until Liverpool fired four past them at Anfield last weekend.
Ambitious attempts to pass out from the back presented the Reds with numerous opportunities, and they are notoriously clinical in front of goal.
In the preceding games, Arteta had stumbled across a winning recipe in defence, keeping three clean sheets in a row before their trip to Anfield.
Unfortunately for Mari, he was not part of that recipe after playing a role in the Gunners’ torrid start to the campaign.
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Mari started the opening two games against Brentford and Chelsea, but has not featured since.
According to Flamengo YouTuber Mauro Sant’Anna, the 28-year-old has now grown tired of collecting dust on the bench.
A return to the Brazilian outfit seems the most likely destination, although his reported £85,000-a-week wages could prove a stumbling block.
Losing Mari, for what would surely be a significantly lower fee than the £14million Arsenal paid in 2020, would be an embarrassing gaffe for Arteta and transfer chief Edu.
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Their necks are also on the line regarding a £150million summer blowout, the biggest spend in Europe, as truly consistent results are yet to be found this season.
With an expensively assembled squad, the Gunners will eventually be expected to leapfrog West Ham into the coveted fourth position to secure a return to Champions League football.
Based on Arteta’s recent selection habits, the Spaniard does not believe that Mari will be central to their ascent, and would surely be open to letting the centre-back leave if a reasonable offer came in.
The defender’s most recent game for Arsenal came in their 2-0 defeat to Chelsea in August, and Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand was scathing about the way he handled, or rather failed to handle Romelu Lukaku.
“Before the game starts you tell them, ‘do not get into a physical battle with him, sometimes let him have a touch of the ball then you hit him, if you let him grip you he’s going to roll you and control the whole situation’,” he told the FIVE YouTube channel.
“He [Lukaku] bullies people, he was like a sixth former playing against first years.
“That’s what he made the Arsenal centre-backs look like, they didn’t know how to deal with him.
“[Pablo] Mari was an embarrassment, he didn’t know what to do.”
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