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Matviyenko, Pablo Mari and the Wait for a New Defender

Image result for Mykola Matviyenko

Matviyenko

The January transfer window comes to a close this Friday and Arsenal fans wait for a new center back to provide support to the team in the short and long term. Calum Chambers is out for the rest of the season and Skhodran Mustafi looks set to spend a lengthy layoff following his injury against Bournemouth in the FA Cup, leaving David Luiz, Sokratis and the injury-prone Rob Holding as the options in that position.

Arsenal is linked with Shakhtar’s Mykola Matviyenko and Flamengo’s Pablo Mari in the past day, but we are still hopeful for these deals to be completed before the window closes.

Pablo Mari’s situation is interesting with the back and forth discussions and negotiations going on with the player. He was spotted in the airport by Goal.com’s Arsenal correspondent, Charles Watt, who shared this tweet. The defender had his medical, which we believed was successful, but to everyone’s surprise, Pablo Mari was on a plane back to Brazil following breakdown of negotiations between Arsenal and Flamengo. According to reports, Arsenal wanted a loan move with the option to buy at the end of the season, while Flamengo wanted an outright sale. 

Flamengo defender Pablo Mari is set to join Arsenal

Flamengo has also gone ahead to sign Leo Pereira, which should probably be Pablo Mari’s replacement. According to the Metro, Arsenal and Flamengo  have agreed a deal to get their man and Brazilian outlet, Globo, has reported that the Spanish defender has travelled to London to complete his move to the Gunners.

The Gunners have also been linked with a move for Mykola Matviyenko and the Metro reports that a deal in principle has been agreed between Arsenal and Shakhtar for the young defender. Mikel Arteta has seen Matviyenko from the dugout when his previous club, Manchester City, played Shakhtar twice in the group stages of the Champions League. 

Whether it’s Pablo Mari or Mykola Matviyenko, or both, Arsenal is in dire need of options in central defense, and I will be good to sign players that will have a long term future with the club, especially with the fact that Sokratis (31) and David Luiz (33) are reaching the twilight of their careers. Their presence will be helpful in bringing the young defenders up to speed but I’m certain that their deals will not be renewed at the end of next season.

We will monitor the situation and will be hopeful that these deals get across the finish line on or before Friday.

Sayonara

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Pablo Mari: 10 Things to Know About Him

Pablo Mari is set to join Arsenal on loan until the end of the season with an option to buy

Pablo Mari was spotted by eagle eyed Arsenal fans and journalists when he was the airport in Brazil. I’m pretty certain that some Arsenal fans tracked him on the plane to London and probably videoed Edu Gaspar sleeping on his shoulder. The fans got a confirmation when Arsenal correspondent for Goal.com, Charles Watt, tweeted this.

Arsenal is on the spotlight in the wake of their defensive crisis with Calum Chambers injured, Sokratis and Rob Holding struggling with fitness, David Luiz currently suspended and Skhodran Mustafi synonymous with gaffes, mistakes and errors.

According to Sky Sports, Pablo Mari arrived in London yesterday for his medical as he looked set to be the Gunners first signing under Mikel Arteta. Arsenal and Flamengo have reached an agreement for loan deal with an option to buy at the end of the season. 

Without further ado, here are 10 things you need to know about Pablo Mari.

Pablo Mari is a Commanding Center Back

The defender is a colossus at the heart of the Flamengo defense, averaging 2.9 clearances, one tackle, one interception per game. He is a reliable outlet at the back for the Brazilian outfit and his presence instilled fears in the faces of opposition forwards.

Pablo Mari is Left Footed

Like Aymeric Laporte in Manchester City, having a left footed center back playing alongside a right footed partner gives better balance to the defense. It’s not like there’s a problem having two left footers or two right footers pair with each other but in Arsenal’s case, Pablo Mari would forge a partnership with the experienced lads like Sokratis and David Luiz.

He has Won is Fair Share of Trophies

Last season was successful for Panlo Mari as he won the Campeonato Serie A and Copa Libertadores (South American version of the Champions League) with Flamengo. Pablo Mari was an ever present at the back for his side, forging a telepathic partnership with Rogerio Caio.

Familiar with the Premier League

You would be surprised to know that Pablo Mari’s performances in La Liga second division side, Gimnastic, earned him a transfer to Manchester City, but the English giants loaned him to Girona, NAC Breda and Deportivo de la Coruna to gain experience before he was transferred to Flamengo.

Pablo Mari is a Ball Playing Defender

Like David Luiz, Pablo Mari is very comfortable with the ball at his feet. Last season, he averaged 3.7 long balls per game, 0.2 key passes and had a passing accuracy of 87.8%. This essentially means that we can build from the back with Pablo Mari just like what we have been doing with David Luiz.

He is a BFG

At 6′ 3″, Pablo Mari has an intimidating frame, which will come in handy against opposition forwards in the Premier League. That height will also be useful from attacking set pieces.

Pablo Mari is Adept in Keeping a High Line

In his time at Flamengo, Pablo Mari and his defensive partner, Rogerio Caio, kept a high line and became accustomed to playing that way. However, they transitioned to playing deep as well, like their performance in the Copa Libertadores finals against Argentine juggernauts, River Plate.

He has had some European Football Experience

Mallorca, Gimnastic, NAC Breda, Girona and Deportivo – these are clubs that Pablo Mari has played for an remained consistent.

His Performances Earned Him a Place in the Brazilian Serie A Team of the Year

His performances were instrumental to his team as they won the national league in Brazil. This earned him a place in the Team of the Year,

Pablo Mari is the Antonym for Skhodran Mustafi

Pablo Mari does not dive into tackles like our brain dead German, as he prefer to read the game and calculate well before making an interception.

Here’s something to wet your appetite on this player

Sayonara.

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Ceballos: Thoughts on his Disappointing Loan Spell

Ceballos

Dani Ceballos arrived on loan from Real Madrid this summer and it came with some good buzz and fanfare. Arsenal fans were aware of his technical abilities and saw him excel in his national colors in the the Under-21s European Championships, and he looked like a decent replacement for Aaron Ramsey. The fans will always love Rambo for all he did for the club in his distinguished years of service, and in Ceballos, he offered the fans a chance to get a glimpse of his ability while donning the favored Number 8 jersey.

Ceballos had a decent debut on the opening fixture against Newcastle, showing off his silky passing skills and technical ability on the ball. However, his home debut against Burnley, which turned out to be his finest performance in Arsenal colors, was exemplary, as he covered every blade of grass for his new side, while creating two assists to his teammates as the Gunners ran out as 2-1 winners. Arsenal fans expected more from Ceballos but for some reason, Unai Emery did not deem it fit to start with the Spaniard, preferring his favored son, Matteo Guendouzi, alongside the then club captain, Granit Xhaka, in central midfield. 

Ceballos struggled to gain any consistent form and had a few fitness issues but he managed to put the icing on the cake when Arsenal thumped Standard Liege in the Europa League group stage fixture. After a couple of international fixtures with Spain, Ceballos got a runout on the side playing all 90 minutes in the disappointing draws with Crystal Palace and Wolves, before suffering a hamstring injury in the Europa League game against Victoria Guimaraes in early November. This turned out to be Ceballos’ last appearance for the club, before he gained full fitness in late December 2019.

Early in the month, I published an article on the players with expiring contracts, providing feedback on whether the club should sell, renew or release. Here was the final take on Ceballos,

We still have five months left in the campaign and the fans expect him to contribute to the cause but he has been an underwhelming signing thus far.

Which is why its surprising with the Metro reporting that Ceballos requested for his loan to be cut short, in his bid to find where he will play competitive football with Euro 2020 in sight. This is compounded with the cryptic Instagram message he sent to Hector Bellerin, stating how he would miss his left-footed volley against Chelsea and he wishes him the best. 

Since Mikel Arteta arrived at the club in late December 2019, Ceballos has not played under his compatriot but with Arsenal still in the Europa League and FA Cup, the expectation is there for the midfield maestro to get a couple of games to contribute to the side. So the idea of him trying to leave, especially when Arteta confirmed that there will be no new signings in January (yes, we are stuck with Mustafi) will make the team lightweight in the middle. We know Joe Willock and Guendouzi can deputize for the starting duo of Xhaka and Lucas Torreira, but Mesut Ozil needs some cover as well. In this scenario, Willock can push up to feature as the #10 while Ceballos can play alongside Guendouzi, as confirmed by Arteta himself,

“I like him (Ceballos) more when he’s close to the box rather than coming deep to receive the ball.  Defensively he can play in a two, rather than as a number 10. I don’t really see him as an isolated number 10 playing with two holding midfielder.

“He’s a very creative player, one who can cause problems in the final third, he always wants the ball, he had big personality to play so I like him.”

The fact that he has not featured as much as he would have hoped must have taken its toll on his decision making, but Arsenal as a club is obligated to stick with him till the end of the season. We will monitor the situation closely to see how both parties react as we edge closer to the end of the transfer window, so we might expect some decisions from the Arsenal hierarchy in the coming days.

Ceballos has had a disappointing loan spell from a personal perspective, but it doesn’t need to have a disappointing ending.

Sayonara

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