Arsenal are on the verge of announcing a deal for Flamengo defender Pablo Mari, with the centre-back spotted flying to London with Gunners technical director Edu to have his medical.
Mikel Arteta has made no secret of his desire to bring in reinforcements in the January window, with a central defender one of several positions he was hoping to strengthen this month.
And Edu has been working hard to secure a new recruit, finally convincing Flamengo to sell Mari despite the Brazilian side being loathe to lose such an important player.
According to GloboEsporte, a breakthrough in talks was made on Friday and the Spanish defender quickly boarded a plane to London with Edu which will touch down on Saturday lunchtime.
He will now undergo a medical and pen personal terms as the Gunners look to wrap up a deal worth around £7million before next Friday’s transfer window deadline.
Mari, 26, has had an interesting career, having been bought by Manchester City but never actually playing a match for the Premier League champions.
Instead, he was sent out on various loans – to Girona, NAC and Deportivo La Coruna – before landing a permanent deal to Flamengo last summer in a deal that was only worth around £1m.
He quickly established himself in the first team and became the first Spaniard to win the Copa Libertadores, while he got a taste of life in the Premier League when he played against Liverpool in the Club World Cup final.
Arsenal’s back-line was heavily criticised against Chelsea last time out, with Shkodran Mustafi gifting the ball to Tammy Abraham before David Luiz was sent off as he tried – and failed – to rescue the situation.
With the Brazilian suspended, Sokratis having been out of action with illness and Calum Chambers picking up an ACL injury that will take between six and nine months to heal, Arsenal’s lack of depth – and quality – at centre-back has become all the more noticeable, prompting an acceleration in talks for Mari.