Few footballers will face a tougher opponent than the Covid-19 pandemic they are currently coping with – the crisis continues to cost lives and means we can’t live our lives as we would want to ordinarily. Football as we know it has had to be shelved for the time being, and of course that should be the case. But when the action starts again, Arsenal’s Pablo Marí will be doing his best to defend against tricky stars from the opposing team.
Solid central defender Mari is a relatively late arrival at the Gunners having joined the Emirates Stadium outfit on loan from Flamengo of the Série A in Brazil in late January just before the transfer window closed.
His original loan spell is until the end of the season, with an option for Gunners head coach Mikel Arteta to make the move permanent in the summer. He played just two games for Arsenal before the coronavirus meant that the season was put on pause but in those two games, against Portsmouth in the FA Cup and West Ham United in the Premier League, he showed a lot of character and displayed enough ability to see why he was wanted by the north London giants.
At the time of his capture the club’s Arsenal’s technical director Edu said of the 26-year-old Spaniard:
“Pablo is an experienced player who will provide us with additional defensive quality. We have been monitoring Pablo’s career for a while and we are very pleased to have reached agreement with Flamengo for him to join us initially until the end of our season.”
Now Mari has lifted the lid on his time at Arsenal so far and elaborated on his first impressions of the club as well as coping with life in lockdown in London.
He told the club’s official website:
“I felt like I am in a historical and traditional club. I already knew it’s a big club because when you are young and you see the Premier League you always look at Arsenal like an unbelievable team. But you only know how big Arsenal is when you come inside”.
“I feel like I’ve improved a lot in myself and can improve with this club to be a better player. So, I am feeling really well when I signed the loan with Arsenal and I hope I can extend this to permanent with them because I am ready to fight together with Arsenal.”
Referencing training in the unusual circumstances brought about by isolation, Mari added:
“My mentality now is that I am not on holiday. I am working at home with my wife and we work out every day. Some days I will do a double session so I work in mornings and afternoons because if we are going to return to train and restart the competition it’s going to be a big difference between guys who worked a lot at home and those who didn’t. These players can give more to the pitch than those who did not, so this is why you work a lot at home. I’m not on a holiday.”
Not on holiday but not needed on the pitch either. For now that is…