Arsenal defender Pablo Mari has told media in Italy that he would prefer to continue playing in Serie A next season after spending the second half of the 2021/22 campaign on loan at Udinese.
Mari barely even made it into the matchday squad in the first half of the season after a nightmare back in August when he started back-to-back defeats to Brentford and Chelsea.
Injuries had hampered the Spaniard’s first full season at the club in 2020/21 following his transfer from Flamengo in Brazil being made permanent. But even when fit towards the end of that campaign, he was still very much in and out of favour.
Since heading to Udinese in January Mari has been a regular starter in Serie A and has now revealed that he would ideally like to stay in Italy rather than return to Arsenal in summer.
“I’d like to stay in Serie A next season,” he told Gazzetta dello Sport. “I’m under contract until June 2024 with Arsenal – but I’m so happy here at Udinese.”
Fabrizio Romano has reported that the loan deal with Udinese, who are in the bottom half of the Serie A table but not in danger of relegation, does not include an option to buy. That means any permanent deal or indeed a second loan next season would have to be negotiated between the clubs.
Arsenal paid just under £7m to sign Mari from Flamengo, with whom he had won the Copa Libertadores at the end of 2019. The centre-back started his career at Mallorca, before a three-year spell on the books at Manchester City where he was exclusively loaned out. Mari then took the slightly unusual step for a European player of heading to South America in 2019.
Mari is not the only Arsenal defender currently out on loan. William Saliba has spent an impressive season with Marseille in France, which looks set to see them return to the Champions League.
The 21-year-old is still thought to be part of the long-term plans at Arsenal, although he didn’t rule out a permanent move to Marseille when quizzed on his future last month.