It’s no secret that this summer will be an important one for Arsenal in terms of recruitment. “We want to take the club to the next level,” said Mikel Arteta in his press conference ahead of the final game of the season against Everton. “That’s the ambition. To achieve that, again we have a very clear plan on how we want to do it and execute it and there are no secrets. We need resources and we need to increase the quality and depth of the squad.” .”
The Gunners have already completed the signing of New England Revolution’s Matt Turner to replace outward-bound Bernd Leno and Edu has no intention of stopping there. football.london understands that strikers Tammy Abraham and Gabriel Jesus are targets, while the club are also looking to Youri Tielemans and Aaron Hickey to strengthen their central midfield and full-back positions.
However, as important as bringing the right players into play is, it will also be crucial to advance specific players. Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Lucas Torreira, Hector Bellerin and Runar Alex Runarsson are just some of the players sure to leave this summer. One player whose future is less clear, however, is Pablo Mari.
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The Spanish defender was an important part of Arteta’s squad last season. He made 18 appearances after returning from an ankle injury and started in key games such as the two Europa League semi-finals against Villarreal. During this period he established himself as a leading player and formed strong relationships with several young players, most notably Gabriel Martinelli.
The season this year proved more difficult following the £50m signing of Ben White. The England international quickly formed a strong partnership with Gabriel, leaving cup games as Mari’s only real chance of minutes due to the lack of European football. Unfortunately, the 28-year-old missed the Carabao Cup encounters with Leeds and Sunderland due to illness and Covid respectively, meaning his only appearance between September and January came in the 3-0 win over AFC Wimbledon.
Therefore, it was decided to loan him out to Udinese in January. He has done well in Italy, making 15 appearances and scoring twice, including a stunning strike against Fiorentina.
The performances were so impressive that I Bianconeri sporting director Pierpaolo Marino admitted they hope to sign him. “Mari is an Arsenal player, it’s quite unusual for such a player to come to Udinese, not because we don’t deserve it, but because the journey in general is the opposite,” he said last month. “It will be difficult to keep him, but we will try.”
However, sources close to the club have revealed this football.london that this move could now be put on hold due to uncertainty about her leadership situation. Udinese announced earlier this week that they would not renew the contract of caretaker Gabriele Cioffi, who replaced former Chelsea assistant Luca Gotti in December. Cioffi played a key role in bringing Mari to Stadio Friuli and the two are believed to have developed a close relationship.
“When I arrived in January, I had a clear and precise idea,” Mari said in an interview with Gazetta dello Sport. “I told the coach and [club owner] Gino Pozzo that I would come to play. But I realized I had to earn the job day by day, practice by practice. [Head coach] Gabriele Cioffi was the first to welcome me here.”
I Bianconeri are likely to wait until they hire a new manager before deciding whether to go ahead with plans to make the 28-year-old’s move permanent. Furthermore, Udinese’s financial constraints mean a deal could be difficult. Mari has two years left on his contract at the Emirates and Arsenal are keen to recoup as much of the £14million they paid to bring him from Flamengo. However, I Bianconeri have only spent twice more than that in their entire history, meaning the Gunners could be in for a financial hit.
The centre-back situation in north London is a bit unclear as of today. Dinos Mavropanos has already moved to Stuttgart but there has been no communication with William Saliba about his plans for his future yet, although Arteta has stated that he would like the Frenchman to come back. Rob Holding, meanwhile, is also ahead of Mari in the pecking order and is the first choice between Gabriel and White.
For his part, Mari has expressed a desire to stay in Serie A, where he feels the league’s style suits his game. “This is the right league for me,” he said. “Very tactical. I try to bring the attacker to me. I really like having the ball and it can be done here and then there’s the fight and I like having a fight on the pitch .
“I’d like to stay in Italy. I’m doing very well at Udinese and I’d be happy to take the club further up the table. Of course, I still have a two-year contract with Arsenal.”
The Spaniard has now gone on holiday with his family ahead of the upcoming season and has posted on social media that he is unclear where his future lies at the moment. “A good season full of changes comes to an end,” he wrote on Instagram. “My time at [Udinese] gave me the opportunity to get to know a wonderful city, a team and fans that are the pride of Udine. Thank you everyone for the incredible support throughout the season. It’s time to rest, recharge batteries and see what the future holds.”
At the time of writing, he will be returning to London Colney for pre-season training with the other Arsenal players when they return from their summer break. However, if Udinese’s management situation is resolved quickly, that could change.