Wednesday, April 19, 2023

ALMOST DONE: Arsenal to complete first summer transfer as Pablo Mari avoids fresh Romelu Lukaku embarrassment

Pablo Mari is a member of this season’s 29-man-strong Arsenal loan army but it’s looking increasingly likely that he will be joining Monza on a permanent basis when the summer transfer window opens.

The Spaniard, who was actually Mikel Arteta’s first signing as Gunners boss in January 2020 when he initially joined on loan from Brazilian side Flamengo, has been with the Serie A newcomers since the beginning of the season and immediately established himself as a mainstay in central defence.

However, there was an unfortunate incident back in October when he was stabbed during an attack in a Milan supermarket. After undergoing surgery to have two muscles repaired, Mari opened up on the ordeal: “After the tough time we had yesterday, both my family and I want to communicate that thankfully we are all fine despite the circumstances and to thank all the messages of support and love we are receiving,” he said, as per the Mirror.

“In addition, we want to send condolences and all our strength to the relatives and friends of the deceased person, and we sincerely wish that all injured people recover as soon as possible.”

Fortunately, Mari was able to make a full recovery and has been ever-present for Monza in Serie A since the campaign resumed after the World Cup break, even captaining the side in a 2-0 defeat at home to Lazio earlier in the month.

Despite that loss, Monza are now 15 points clear of the relegation zone with eight games remaining and this is great news for Arsenal as understands that a £5.9million windfall is on the way for the permanent transfer of Mari as per conditions of the loan agreement.

So as things stand, the Gunners’ first deal of what is expected to be a busy summer of transfer activity is set to be the Spaniard’s exit after the 29-year-old played his part in Monza’s rather surprise 1-0 win over Internazionale at the San Siro last weekend.

Interestingly, Mari was up against Romelu Lukaku once again. Just over a year after the pair first did battle when Arsenal were beaten 2-0 at home by Chelsea at the beginning of last season, it’s safe to say the former had a point to prove as he was labelled an “embarrassment” for his performance.

“He [Lukaku] bullies people, he was like a sixth former playing against first years,” Rio Ferdinand said on his FIVE YouTube channel at the time. “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.”

In truth, Mari did have his hands full with Lukaku and by no means was he able to keep the Chelsea loanee quiet for the full 95 minutes. But he was able to avoid being embarrassed this time around as Monza came away with a clean sheet and three points to further boost their chances of survival.

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