Mikel Arteta to push ahead with permanent Pablo Mari transfer as Arsenal shelve Axel Disasi interest

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta and defender Pablo Mari
The Spanish centre-back moved to the Emirates on an initial loan deal in January (Picture: Getty)

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has given the go-ahead to the club’s hierarchy to turn Pablo Mari’s loan stay at the Emirates into a permanent move, effectively ending interest in Axel Disasi.

Central defence has become one of the key areas Arteta wishes to strengthen when the transfer window reopens, with the back-line continuing to leak goals despite an upturn in results prior to the Premier League season being suspended.

The club also have a looming contract crisis in the heart of their defence, with David Luiz, Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Shkodran Mustafi all entering the final year of their respective deals.

Reports in France claimed recently that Arsenal had identified Reims centre-back Disasi as a potential option to bolster their backline, having made an approach in January.

However The Athletic’s David Ornstein says the Gunners will not pursue a £13m deal for the 22-year-old, with Arteta adamant that he wants a left-footed centre-back – which Disasi is not.

Instead, the Gunners will look a little closer to home, with Arteta happy to turn Mari’s loan move into a permanent deal for a fee of around £10m.

Although the Spanish defender has had little game time, he impressed against West Ham in the Premier League and Portsmouth in the FA Cup – keeping a clean sheet in both.

Mari played as the left-sided centre-back for Flamengo prior to joining Arsenal, and club bosses feel he ticks the requirement Arteta wants, while they also have William Saliba returning from his loan at Saint-Etienne.

Should Arsenal manage to offload one of their many other centre-backs, they could be tempted to dive back into the market to strengthen that area of the squad even further.

Arsenal defender Pablo Mari
Mari has looked assured in games and impressed in training (Picture: Getty)

Mari has already stressed that he is keen to remain at the Emirates, though acknowledged the coronavirus crisis – which has put huge financial strain on clubs and seen Arsenal’s players agree to a pay cut – could make a deal hard to complete.

Speaking to talkSPORT, he said: ‘I have found myself here at Arsenal. It is a really good option for me. I want to stay here and improve as a player and a person. I want to be here for many more years.’

In another interview with Sky Sports, he added: ‘I hope that me and the club go at the end with good things to do a permanent transfer. But we will see because at the moment with the virus it is a little bit difficult.’

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