‘Complete defender’ Mari tipped to shine at Arsenal by Brazil legend Rivaldo

The World Cup winner considers the Spanish defender to be a shrewd addition for the Gunners following a January loan switch from Flamengo

Arsenal have landed themselves a “complete defender” in Pablo Mari, says Rivaldo, with an iconic Brazilian backing a man who caught the eye in his homeland to “fit in very well” at Emirates Stadium.

The Spaniard, who previously struggled to make his mark at Manchester City, was taken back to English football during the January transfer window.

Mikel Arteta, in a bid to plug a leaky back line in north London, raided the ranks at 2019 Copa Libertadores winners Flamengo.

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Mari has been acquired by Arsenal on an initial loan deal, but the 26-year-old is already looking to plan long-term ahead of an expected permanent agreement in the summer.

Rivaldo believes that option will be taken up by the Gunners.

The World Cup winner is expecting Mari to catch the eye in the Premier League, with his stock having risen considerably since spending time at the Etihad Stadium.

“I think Pablo Mari will fit in very well at Arsenal and in the Premier League,” Rivaldo told Standard Sport.

“He is a good player that struggled to impose himself in Europe as a loaned player of Man City for a while, but he really convinced people being part of a great Flamengo team last season.

“He is very complete as a defender – capable of bringing the ball forward when necessary and a threat on set pieces. He has good passing skills as well and I liked what I saw from him. 

“In Brazil, everyone has good opinion about him, and he could be a very successful option for Arsenal and Mikel Arteta.”

Mari has aired his ambition since linking up with Arsenal, with there a desire on his part to follow in the footsteps of some illustrious countrymen.

He has told Arsenal Player: “There have been some wonderful Spanish players to play for Arsenal.

“Fabregas, Cazorla, Reyes… they’re all great Spanish players that have passed through this club. 

“One of those legends that we have with us now is Mikel. He was a very important player for Arsenal and now this is a new project for him as coach, but I think he’s going to repeat what he achieved when he was a player.

“Personally I look up to him and the career he had at Arsenal. That’s what I’ve been working for all these years.

“I’d love to be at Arsenal for a long time and I hope to give the Gunners some victories to celebrate again.”

Mari is still waiting on his debut for the Gunners, but a first outing for new employers could be taken in when Arteta’s side return to action after their winter break with a home date against Newcastle on February 16.

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