Some Arsenal fans have a theory regarding Pablo Mari’s absence against Crystal Palace.
The central defender was a surprise inclusion in the Gunners XI against Chelsea on Boxing Day last month, but kept his place for the next three games after the 3-1 win at the Emirates Stadium.
And Arsenal kept three successive clean sheets with Mari at the heart of defence – twice alongside Rob Holding and as David Luiz’s partner for the FA Cup third-round win over Newcastle United last weekend.
Even with Gabriel Magalhaes available again following a spell out of the side with Covid-19 related issues, there were some predicting Mari would keep his place for the visit of Palace.
Click to play
Tap to play
The video will auto-play soon8Cancel
However, the Spaniard has not only been left out of the starting XI, he’s not made the matchday squad.
Officially, the reason for Mari’s absence – as explained by Arsenal in a social media post – is as a precaution, due to tightness in his calf.
Although not all Gunners supporters are buying that explanation.
In the build-up to the game against Palace, Brazilian outlet Globo Esporte had reported that Arsenal have to pay Flamengo a bonus of around £900,000 every time Mari makes 10 appearances, up to a maximum of 80 outings.
football.london spoke to someone close to Mari who confirmed that “there are some performance bonuses” included in the transfer fee.
As expected, with Mari missing out against Palace, some fans believe it was done in order to save almost £1m.
Take a look at what’s been said on Twitter…
By signing up for our Arsenal newsletter, you will receive a once-daily email, focused around goings-on at Emirates Stadium.
You won’t miss a thing when it comes to the Gunners – you’ll get all you need to know directly into your inbox.
We’ll also send out special…