Pablo Mari has blamed a lack of luck for his struggles to stand out at Arsenal – but has no ill feeling towards Mikel Arteta after moving on temporarily.
Arsenal signed Pablo Mari on loan from Flamengo in January 2020 before making the move permanent that summer. However, he struggled to command a regular place in Arteta’s lineups. Indeed, Mari only amassed 14 Premier League appearances in the two years between his arrival and recent exit.
He is currently spending the rest of the season out on loan with Udinese. The Spaniard will be hoping for more gametime than he got at the Emirates Stadium.
Udinese have already handed him his first Serie A start, giving him something to build from. But with no option to buy in the loan deal, Mari remains an Arsenal player. His contract back in north London runs until 2024.
Perhaps careful not to burn any bridges back with the Premier League club, Mari has opened up on his Arsenal exit. The 28-year-old defended his performance levels during his rare appearances for Arsenal, instead claiming luck is the only thing that has set him back.
Mari told Radio Marca: “I haven’t had any luck at Arsenal, but when I’ve been on the pitch, I think I’ve given a very good level.
“In the end, there comes a point where you have to make decisions.”
Despite being underused by manager Mikel Arteta, though, Mari has plenty of praise for the Gunners boss.
The ex-Manchester City defender compared the coach to Pep Guardiola in terms of his philosophy.
Mari added: “Arteta is one of the best managers I’ve come across.
“He helped me a lot to understand football better. It’s an idea very similar to Guardiola’s, but with its nuances.”
Arsenal ready for £200m+ spend this summer
Arsenal are preparing to spend over £200m this summer with Isak, Calvert-Lewin and Ruben Neves their targets
And Mari’s comments on Guardiola himself give an indication of how high that commendation is.
Of his former City boss, whom Arteta previously assisted, Mari said: “Pep is one of the great coaches in history.
“He is a master class day by day. One minute with him will last a lifetime. Every footballer would want to be under his orders.
“Footballers always want to be around people like that because they grow tremendously as footballers and as people.”
Pablo Mari ambitious for new experiences
For Mari, the chance to play in Serie A was too good to turn down. It represents another new adventure for someone who has played in Spain, England, the Netherlands and Brazil before.
He said: “Now I have the opportunity to play in my fifth league in my sports career and I hope it won’t be the last.
“It’s a pleasure to play in Serie A. I’ve grown up wanting to be a great defender. For me it’s three very important months in my career. I faced them with enthusiasm.
“I have already told the coach that I am indifferent to playing in one profile or another of the defence.”
And he is not looking too far ahead for his long-term future, or even what can be achieved this season.
Mari continued: “Game by game. I do not consider anything beyond the clashes week by week to add the points that we need.
“Any team that faces me is a new challenge. Each game that I face is a new illusion.”