David Luiz is convinced Pablo Mari will prove to be an excellent addition to Arsenal, having spoken to the Spaniard’s former coach at Flamengo Jorge Jesus.
Mari joined Arsenal on an initial loan until the end of the season with the Gunners having the option to permanently sign the Spaniard from Flamengo should he prove to be a success in England.
The 26-year-old has taken a rather circuitous route to the top of European football. Mari spent three years on Manchester City’s books but was loaned to several clubs across the continent to varying degrees of success before opting to join Jorge Jesus at Flamengo.
In Brazil he proved to be a shrewd addition as the centre-back played a crucial role in Flamengo winning the league title and Copa Libertadores. Luiz, who was coached by Jesus at Benfica between 2009 and 2011, keenly followed Mari’s success and is convinced he will be a great addition to Arsenal.
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Luiz said: “He’s a great player, he did amazing in Brazil under Jorge Jesus, a coach I know very well, he’s my friend and one of the top coaches in the world. It was a pleasure for me seeing Pablo and Rodrigo Caio, another friend, doing really well in Brazil. I hope he can help us.
“I speak with Jorge every week, he’s really my friend. He told me to welcome him in the best way because Pablo is ready to play.”
On Mari’s decision to leave the European game for the highest level of South American football, Luiz added: “He was courageous, not scared to try something big.
“In Brazil [it’s the same]. with Jorge Jesus, to go to Brazil as a European coach. He did great and Brazil is improving a lot, especially in a tactical way. Before it was just players with individual talent and not tactics. Now football is improving a lot with in the tactical [approach], like Tite did with Corinthians.
“Our football is improving a lot, the quality was always there but now the tactical part is.”
Pablo Mari celebrates his goal during the 2019 Copa Libertadores second leg semi-final football match between Flamengo and Gremio
(Image: MAURO PIMENTEL/AFP via Getty Images)
Mari’s addition fills a key gap in Arteta’s squad with the head coach having made plain his desire for a left-footed centre-back.
The Spaniard invariably plays on the left side of defence, a role that Luiz has made his own since joining Arsenal from Chelsea in the summer of 2019.
“It’s good when you have a squad with a lot of quality and players,” Luiz added. “We have a game every week, you have to be happy with this.
“I always want to play, always want to play in the way the coach wants to play. It doesn’t matter the side, it doesn’t matter which position.
“You guys know I played a lot of position during my career. I’m always ready for that.”