Charles Watts, take a bow son.
Pablo Mari has just arrived at Heathrow with Edu and he tell me he is excited to be joining Arsenal.
Medical to take place this weekend. pic.twitter.com/6VY1RM3wJL
— Charles Watts (@charles_watts) January 25, 2020
The Goal journo caught Edu and Pablo Mari walking out of the airport, which can lead us to one of two conclusions, the Spaniard is our new defensive signing, or he and Edu are into lads trips away.
Let’s go with the Spaniard being the first new signing of the Edu era.
He’s a signing out of the left-field, that’s not a problem of course. He has a lot of interesting aspects to his game that could be of benefit to the way we play moving forward.
Firstly, he’s 6ft 4 inches. He’s a monster, which will suit the league and give us good coverage from pesky highballs into the box and from setpieces. He’s a leader, a great organizer, and he’s just off the back of a historic season in Brazil.
The Spaniard, who moved the opposite way transfers from Europe and South America usually happen, has been owned by Manchester City for 3 years. So Mikel will know him intimately, though he’ll have never worked with him directly. This from Mari in Athletic earlier this season.
“In my mind, I was moving to Manchester but I’d only been there once for my medical,”
“I signed for City in 2013 but I’ve never met Pep Guardiola or any of the first-team players. I’d love to one day speak to him because he’s one of the greatest ever coaches. And when I signed for City, I did so because I felt that one day, I could play for them.”
His best European loan spell came when he had a 38 game roll with Deportivo when they were in the Segunda Division, but he struggled to land a contract anywhere until Flamengo offered him a 3 year deal under Jorge Jesus. The exBenfica manager had this to say of his star defender.
“He has been superb for me, not just on the field but off it. He wants you to be the very best footballer you can be and also the best person you can be. He wants players to express themselves but be humble. He wants players to be serious about their football. It’s not easy being 11 hours away by plane from your home but he made it easier for me to adapt — the training ground is top quality too — and the coach is one of the best in the world. It’s a great feeling to have the confidence of your coach.”
ESPN had a good paragraph on what he’s offered the free-flowing football of Flamengo this season.
‘The 26-year-old was signed from Manchester City, who had parked him on loan at Deportivo La Coruna. Given City’s defensive problems this year, they could have made a mistake letting him go, because he has been a vital part of the Jorge Jesus jigsaw. Without his capacity to play in and organize a high line, the team would be stretched out and vulnerable, with a gaping hole in front of the defence. The steadiness of the Spaniard allows the two veteran full-backs, Rafinha and Filipe Luis, to spend more time in the opponent’s half than in their own, constructing the play from the back.’
The player is coming in on a loan deal apparently, presumably with a view to a permanent deal if he performs well.
I have no idea what to expect, though I was pleased to see him having a pretty solid game against Liverpool in the FIFA Club Cup Final, and this highlights reel from a Flamengo fan has some good bits.
Saudades meu XERIFE😢 pic.twitter.com/faxYNVKvsF
— Rosely Pereira ᶜʳᶠ (@roselypereirafl) January 25, 2020
There are obviously some worries with this signing. He’s a late bloomer who struggled to catch the eye whilst at City, that doesn’t mean he’ll not be great, but a watch out. Coming from the Brazilian League to the Premier League is going to be a shock to his system, so it’s going to be a baptism of fire. Asking players to adapt from any league in 2 weeks is always tough, but I guess when it’s a choice of his rustiness or Mustafi, it’s a no-brainer.
There’s also the same familiar contacts approach to scouting that has been going on since Sven left. This is another player represented by someone very close to Raul. This time it’s Arturo Canales, who according to Phil Costa was also asked to represent the Shaktar defender we’ve been sniffing around. Canales has been in and around Arsenal for a while. Unai Emery coincidentally switched to his agency after a very strong recommendation from his agent in waiting. This is Emery to Marca in 2018.
“Why I was chosen by Arsenal? I was a part of a list of eight candidates, as Ivan Gazidis said. But Arturo Canales [not yet his agent] insisted that I was the best candidate of all,”
Firstly, he clearly wasn’t the best candidate available. Secondly, why would an agent’s opinion carry any weight at all? Regardless of why Raul was sweet-talked in this situation, the murky nature of his involvement started to look very odd when he was allegedly pushing for Emery to get a new 4-year deal right after seeing a car crash end to the season that culminated in the worst cup final defeat in a generation… then he took an age to pull the trigger, despite watching the worst Arsenal start in 38 years.
These agents are in it for themselves and when you see the same names crop up over and over again, it worries you that we’re being pointed in the direction of curveball signings through recommendations, versus deeply interrogated data analysis. Players are the lifeblood of the club, I really hope we’re going deeper than a finger pointing in a certain direction when making decisions, because contacts scouting is the past, and we need to be heading towards the future if we’re to compete at the highest level again.
Still, we’ll at least be looking at a new player… fingers crossed on that medical.