Premier League • England

Arsenal replacement plans outlined if forgotten man follows exit-bound teammate away

Calum Chambers and Rob Holding blocking Wilfried Zaha

Arsenal are not aiming to sign a replacement for exit-bound defender Pablo Mari, one reporter has claimed – but their plans could change should they sanction a second exit.

As in previous transfer windows, Arsenal have been trimming their squad this January. They have already allowed Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Folarin Balogun to leave on loan.

Now, Pablo Mari is set to depart on the same terms. The defender, who joined the club in 2020 from Flamengo, is on the verge of a loan to Udinese.

The deal is expected to go through by the end of the week. It will leave Arsenal with just Ben White, Gabriel Magalhaes and Rob Holding as their main centre-back options.

According to CBS Sports correspondent James Benge, though, Arsenal are not planning to bring in a new body to cover while Mari spends the rest of the season in Italy.

What the reporter does claim, though, is that Arsenal are also willing to listen to offers for Calum Chambers.

Chambers has only started three matches between the Premier League and Carabao Cup this season. Two of those starts came at right-back, but one was at centre-half.

Juventus want Aubameyang on loan from Arsenal

Juventus want Aubameyang on loan from Arsenal

Juventus want Aubameyang on loan from Arsenal for rest of season

He is therefore an option to cover in both positions. That should be useful given Mari’s impending exit and the fact that full-back Cedric Soares also faces an uncertain future.

But Benge reveals Arsenal would “consider” any bids they receive for the former Southampton man this month.

Arsenal yet to receive Calum Chambers offers

Calum Chambers making a clearance for Arsenal

None have arrived yet. But if they do and Arsenal accept, they would then be expected to enter the market for a new defender.

For now, their priorities lie elsewhere, such as finding a new striker. After Balogun’s temporary exit, also facing uncertain futures are Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah.

Therefore, that is the territory in which Arsenal are focusing for now. But should things change with Calum Chambers, it may be beneficial for them to address the other end of the pitch too.

It remains to be seen who they could pursue or on what kind of terms. Reports have indicated that Mikel Arteta still plans to reintegrate Mari next season.

Although the Spaniard has featured just three times in all competitions this season, he could return from his loan ready to fight for his place again.

Until that time, though, the Gunners must weigh up how they will plug the gap – if at all.

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Surprise striker deal rumour escalates

Meanwhile, while they focus on attackers instead, Arsenal have been linked with a surprise transfer for a former Chelsea star.

Diego Costa has escalated speculation that he could join Arsenal on a free transfer after announcing the termination of his contract with Atletico Mineiro.

The 33-year-old former Chelsea frontman had a successful five-month stint with the Belo Horizonte club, winning the Brasileiro (top flight) and also the Copa do Brasil in his time with them.

Costa initially signed a contract until December 2022, following the termination of his deal at Atletico Madrid.

However, the experienced Spain international may be on the way back to England, more than four years after he left Stamford Bridge.

Reports from South America last week claimed that Mikel Arteta’s men had been in discussions with the player. Atletico Mineiro director of football Rodrigo Caetano enhanced the chances of the move happening by admitting that Costa wanted to move on.

And now the feisty attacker has announced his exit in an emotional goodbye message.

“Today, officially, I say goodbye to Atletico,” he wrote on Instagram. “I would like to thank all Massa Atleticana for all the support and affection I received from the first to the last day.

“Thank you so much for being part of my childhood dream of playing in Brazilian football and winning titles.

“I would also like to express my gratitude to the entire technical staff, medical department, employees and especially to my teammates who helped me daily, always doing everything to make me feel comfortable.

“The feeling that remains is gratitude to all of you Athleticans. Thank you and I wish you all the success in the world!!!”

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