Arsenal are on the verge of agreeing a deal to sign Flamengo centre-back Pablo Mari for around £7.5m, according to the Daily Mail.
The Spanish defender helped Flamengo win Serie A and the Copa Libertadores in 2019, and also took them to the Club World Cup final where they restricted Liverpool to just one goal over 120 minutes. He’s pretty accomplished and should improve Mikel Arteta’s side.
The thing is, Arsenal need more than just one centre-back. That’s a good start, for sure, but the side still has three key areas of need that they should address in what remains of the transfer window. Arsenal are 5/2* to secure a top-six finish and new recruits would certainly boost their cause between now and the end of the season.
The Arsenal squad is loaded with talent but if these following needs are addressed then the Gunners would truly have a squad capable of returning the Gunners to the level they want to be at.
Arsenal signed Kieran Tierney for £25m in the summer, but the Scot has been injured for the vast majority of his time as an Arsenal player. First he had a hip problem, now it’s a shoulder. This was after he missed over 100 days during the 2018/19, campaign including the first instance of his hip problem. He also had ankle ligament trouble three years ago.
He’s obviously a great talent, but it’s clear he’s injury prone. Arsenal’s other options at left-back are Sead Kolasinac, a bombastic wing-back who you can’t really play in a back four because he, y’know, can’t defend. And then there’s Bukayo Saka, who was excellent against Chelsea but is also a teenage winger so probably not a long-term option.
Suggested signing: Ryan Bertrand
Arsenal need a stable, reliable performer from left-back. They need someone who is Premier League proven and will come in and perform straight away. Ryan Bertrand is an ideal left-back for the Gunners. At 30 years of age he’s an established veteran but he’s also had some immense experiences thanks to his time with Chelsea where he started the 2012 Champions League final. He can defend, he can attack, he wouldn’t cost the earth and could come in and perform from day one.
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Héctor Bellerin is a wonderful man. His commitment to speaking out against bigotry and injustice using his sizeable public platform is commendable. But he’s also an injury risk. The Spaniard missed nearly all of 2019 with cruciate ligament trouble and those injuries, even when healed, can lead to more as the body tries to compensate. And Bellerin’s back-up is Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who isn’t a right-back and doesn’t want to play right-back.
Suggested signing: Max Aarons
Norwich are probably going to get relegated. This is a shame for them, but Arsenal can take advantage by making a move for Max Aarons. The young Englishman has proven himself to be a Premier League level player this season, despite his side struggling mightily. Aarons is a fierce competitor and a creative force. Only Emi Buendia has created more than his six big chances for the Canaries, and no one in Daniel Farke’s side can match his 43 crosses either. He’d be a constant creative force for the Gunners on the right, a player capable of dominating the flank.
Yes, Arsenal are reportedly in for one centre-back, but is that enough? Sure one new arrival will get Sokratis Papastathopoulos and/or Shkodran Mustafi out of the side, but David Luiz would still have to start. And what if Pablo Mari doesn’t prove to be a hit right away? He’s just played for all of 2019 remember (Brazilian seasons run across a single calendar year) so he’s bound to be carrying more fatigue than his new team-mates.
Suggested signing: Jerome Boateng
The Gunners have already been linked with a loan move for the World Cup winning centre-back, as Jerome Boateng has found himself out of favour in the Bundesliga. And whilst on the face of it Boateng doesn’t seem like an upgrade on any of Arsenal’s defenders given his fall in form, recall that he was imperious playing for Bayern Munich within Pep Guardiola’s system.
That’s the same system Arteta has brought with him to Arsenal. Alright, he fell over when one-on-one with Lionel Messi five years ago, but you don’t face Messi every week in the Premier League and frankly, if Boateng can get Arsenal back to a place where they’re facing the Argentine again, he will have been a massive success.