‘I am so happy here’ – Pablo Mari targets permanent Arsenal stay

The defender – on loan from Flamengo – made his Premier League debut on Saturday during the 1-0 win against West Ham

Pablo Mari has set his sights on playing for Arsenal for ‘a lot of years’ after making his Premier League debut against West Ham.

The Spanish defender joined on loan from Brazilian giants Flamengo in January and the Gunners have an option to make his move permanent at the end of the season.

Mari has had to bide his time since arriving in north London, with his fitness not initially at the level for him to be in contention for matchday squads.

But he made his first appearance during the FA Cup win at Portsmouth last week and then, with Shkodran Mustafi injured, he was handed his first start in the Premier League at the weekend, helping Arsenal to a 1-0 success against West Ham.

Although he was given some problems by Michail Antonio, on the whole it was an impressive first league appearance from the 26-year-old and he is already targeting plenty more appearances in the red and white.

“I want to play in one of the best leagues in the world and I am now here,” said Mari. “I am going to do my best for the team, for the club, to win a lot of games and also for fans [so they can] enjoy [it] with me.

“I want to play a lot of years here with Arsenal. I am really happy now.”

When asked on whether that meant he wanted to make his move to Emirates Stadium permanent, Mari added: “Yeah, of course. I am so happy here.

“I am going to try and do my best until the end of the season. I hope also the club is happy with me and then we are going to find a good end for everybody.”

Saturday’s win against West Ham was a third successive victory in the Premier League for Arsenal and they now head to Manchester City on Wednesday night with a chance to move to within two points of fifth-placed Manchester United.

For Mari, it will be a return to a club where he spent three years as a player between 2016 and 2019 before he moved to Brazil to join Flamengo.

He didn’t make one appearance for City, however, during his time at the club – instead having three separate spells out on loan with Girona, NAC and Deportivo La Coruna.

And ahead of his return to the Etihad, Mari admits he looks back on his time as a City player as a bit of a missed opportunity.

“Maybe,” he said. “In that time, for me in my mind, I wanted to play with them.

“This was not possible. So now for me it is another situation.

“I’ve learned a lot [since leaving] because when I was there I was young, now I am little bit older. I learned a lot in all the teams I have played. So I don’t want to look back, I want to look forward.

“Now I am in a really good club and I want to continue here for a lot of years.”