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Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta is ready to turn Pablo Mari’s loan stay at the North London club into a permanent move.

Reports in France suggested the Arsenal wanted Reims centre-back Axel Disasi to strengthen their backline.

However, The Athletic report Arsenal will not pursue a £13m deal for the 22-year-old as Arteta would prefer to sign a left-footed centre-back and Mari fits the bill.

Also Read: Enyeama: Why I Rejected Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur Transfer

Central defence has become one of the key areas Arteta wishes to strengthen when the transfer window reopens, with a looming contract crisis in the heart of their defence, with David Luiz, Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Shkodran Mustafi all entering the final year of their deals.

Mari, 26, made his Arsenal debut in the FA Cup victory at Portsmouth in early March and then his Premier League bow against West Ham in the Gunners’ last game before the coronavirus shutdown.

Mari signed for the club on loan from Brazilian club Flamengo back in January and Arsenal have the option to sign him outright in the summer.

He told Sky Sports: “We played well. I have a lot of things to learn but I think my football can be really good with Arsenal.

“I hope the club and I can go at the end [of the season] with good things to do the permanent transfer. We will see what happens because at the moment with the virus it is difficult.”

Mari, formerly on the books of Manchester City for three years without playing a single first-team game, believes he is improving under the tutelage of manager Mikel Arteta, a former City assistant coach.

“He has done really well so far. I’m really happy to work with him,” he said.

“He has helped me with my weaknesses and improved the strengths. I hope I can work with him a lot of years.”

Asked about his ambitions at the Emirates Stadium, Mari said: “To win the Premier League or try to go to the Champions League with the Arsenal. Also to go to the national team.”

Mari helped Flamengo win the Copa Libertadores, South America’s equivalent of the Champions League, last year before they went on to lose to Liverpool in the FIFA Club World Cup final.

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