Flamengo manager sends clear message to Arsenal over Pablo Mari transfer

Pablo Mari underwent a medical at Arsenal at the weekend
Pablo Mari underwent a medical at Arsenal at the weekend (Picture: Getty)

Flamengo head coach Jorge Jesus insists he ‘really wants’ to keep hold of Pablo Mari amid speculation the defender could be on his way to Arsenal this January.

Arsenal technical director Edu agreed a deal for Mari last week and the 26-year-old centre-back caught a flight to Heathrow on Saturday before undergoing a medical at London Colney.

However, Arsenal’s discussions to sign Mari stalled and the Spaniard headed back home to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, ‘disappointed’ that the move could be on the brink of collapse.

On Monday, an unnamed Flamengo director hit out at the Gunners for apparently trying to change the terms of their agreement for Mari.

It’s understood Arsenal initially offered Flamengo a permanent transfer worth £7.5million before raising the possibility of a loan deal with an option to buy Mari in the summer.

While the latest reports in Brazil indicate that talks have picked up again for Mari, Flamengo’s manager has played down Arsenal’s chances of signing the central defender before Friday’s deadline.

Jesus has also underlined his desire to hold onto Gabriel Barbosa who has greatly impressed since being loaned out by Inter Milan.

‘Gabi [Barbosa] is not from Flamengo, he is from Inter,’ Jesus said.

‘Pablo [Mari] is a Flamengo player.

‘There are two players that we really want in our squad.’

Jesus wants to keep hold of Mari this January
Jesus wants to keep hold of Mari this January (Picture: Getty)

Jesus added: ‘Pablo had a great season, as most of them,’ Jesus said.

‘He has clubs interested in him, it is a subject to the board.

‘We really want to keep both of them here, we are very confident.’

Mikel Arteta confirmed that Arsenal were still in the market for a central defender following the side’s 2-1 victory over Bournemouth on Monday evening.

‘We are in the market,’ the Spaniard said.

‘The club is trying to facilitate us one or two bodies if we can with the resources we have in this window.

‘But I don’t know, whenever we have something to say we’ll confirm with you.’

Mustafi suffered an ankle injury during Arsenal's FA Cup fourth round tie
Mustafi suffered an ankle injury during Arsenal’s FA Cup fourth round tie (Picture: Getty)

Arteta insists Shkodran Mustafi’s injury at Dean Court will have no impact on their move for Mari this winter.

‘No, we had a very clear intention of what we wanted to do in the market with the resources we have,’ he said after Mustafi was stretchered off with an ankle problem.

‘If we can do it, fine. But his [Mustafi’s] fitness won’t change anything.’

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