When Arsenal signed Pablo Mari back in January earlier this year, there may have been some eyebrows raised as to why Raul Sanllehi and co had decided to loan in a 27-year-old defender who had failed to make the grade in European football.
Things were then made even more questionable when despite going down with injury, the Gunners signed the Spaniard on a permanent basis, seemingly convinced by the few times that he actually took to the pitch.
Having made his return to fitness a few weeks ago, Arsenal have tried to slowly ease Mari back into first-team action, and he delivered arguably his most assured performance against Dundalk on Thursday night in the Europa League.
As per Sofascore, he won 100% of his duels on the night, and made two interceptions and tackles a piece too. And aside from being defensively disciplined, he also looked extremely assured on the ball too, boasting an impressive 95% pass accuracy and even providing one key pass too.
I’ve liked the look of Mari tonight, albeit you have to take the opposition into account. He’s always on the front foot though, clearly very good at reading the game. Steps out very well.
— Charles Watts (@charles_watts) December 10, 2020
With Arsenal already boasting an impressive left-footed central defender in Gabriel, they don’t need Mari to be a regular starter for them. But they do know that if they have to call on him, they can completely rely on him to hold his own.
He may not be one of the more glamorous signings Arsenal have made in recent years, but he is one of the more shrewd ones.