Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has expressed his surprise with January loan signing Pablo Mari following his debut for Arsenal’s Under-23 side on Monday.
The central defender joined the Gunners on loan from Brazilian Serie A side Flamengo in January with the option to make the deal permanent in summer.
And the Spanish centre-back earned his debut for Arteta’s Under-23 team on Monday in a 2-1 defeat to London rivals Chelsea.
But the Arsenal boss claims that despite his side losing, he was ‘highly impressed’ with the performance of the January loan signing.
“Well, I watched the game but I could not be there for a personal reason,” Arteta said.
“When he joined the club he hadn’t played for a long time and he had a little niggle as well when he joined us, but his attitude and commitment has been really, really good and highly surprising.
“He did really well the other day and hopefully we can start to use him soon.”
Arsenal face a trip to Athens on Thursday night for the first leg of their Europa League clash against league leaders Olympiacos, and Mari is in contention to feature for the Gunners.
And the Spaniard is keen to emulate the success of some of his fellow countrymen who have played a vital role for Arsenal in recent years, including the current Gunners boss.
“There have been some wonderful Spanish players to play for Arsenal,’ Mari told Arsenal’s official website.
“Fabregas, Cazorla, Reyes… they’re all great Spanish players that have passed through this club. One of those legends that we have with us now is Mikel.
“He was a very important player for Arsenal and now this is a new project for him as coach, but I think he’s going to repeat what he achieved when he was a player.
“Personally I look up to him and the career he had at Arsenal. That’s what I’ve been working for all these years.
“I’d love to be at Arsenal for a long time and I hope to give the Gunners some victories to celebrate again.”