So we have ourselves a shiny new player! One in which we can pour all of our hopes, dreams and ambitions into, that he’ll be the next Tony Adams or Sol Campbell.

Until the summer.

Yep, because it’s a six month loan deal with an option to buy and as I’ve said already this week I am a-ok with that. I’m also feeling a little more enthused about the signing than I was when I first heard about it. When the news first broke, subsequently followed by roving reporter Charles Watts stationing himself at Heathrow for the exclusive snap, I was a bit ‘meh’ I have to say. We were getting a centre half who had knocked his way around Europe and despite being officially a Man City player, he never actually spoke to Pep Guardiola, which I find a little odd. After all the aim must have been to give him a shot in the first team at some stage, otherwise why would you bother signing a player? Unless it was all a plan to snaffle up money by buying a prospect and then selling him on for more than you paid….

Of course I don’t think that’s the case, but nevertheless, his footballing journey to us has been a weird one. The clubs he’s played for have hardly been world renowned names – Flamengo aside – and when he went there he won trophies and he was named Brazil’s best defender. Reason number one to be a little excited.

I know Brazil’s league isn’t the strongest, but if you’re going to poach from that league, at least make it so that the player you’re poaching is the best you can get. Reason numero dos to be excited.

Then there’s people that watch Brazilian football. I’ve seen plenty of people play the ‘Meh’ card on social media – just like I did – but I’m a person who will happily admit I’d never even heard of him until about a week and a half ago. I hate to link to TalkSh*te radio in a blog, but they have a video and webpage of quotes of Tim Vickery talking up the player and he had many good things to say, even suggesting that Man City have lost a trick by letting Mari go so easily. He talks about the fact Mari isn’t the quickest, but his positioning makes up for that, as does the fact he knows how to play a high line, something we’ve seen from Arteta’s initial days at Arsenal. There’s also the fact that he’s left footed too. Hold the ‘isn’t blessed with pace but has good positioning’ in your minds eye for a second. I’ll come back to that shortly. Reason numéro trois to be excited.

Then, as I was brushing my teeth this morning, I read Tim Stillman’s excellent overview of him on Arseblog, which also had plenty of interesting points that I hadn’t considered. For one thing Tim talks about the frame of Mari and how he doesn’t go to ground. He says he looks a little bit gangly because of his size but those limbs are handing in poking the ball away.

There’s also something else Tim mentions. Coupled with Tom Vickery’s comments, see if you can picture that player from these attributes:

  • Tall
  • Not blessed with pace
  • Positioning makes up for it
  • Looks a little gangly because of his size
  • Doesn’t go to ground often.
  • Did Big Per Mertesacker creep in there at all?
  • We signed Big Per and I remember after a season there were one or two errors, but he became an excellent defender for us because he marshalled the team, was positionally excellent and formed a great partnership with Koscielny. It was the kind of partnership we would kill for at Arsenal right now and although comparisons with ex-players are often unkind and heap unnecessary pressure and expectation on them, that comparison for me has just helped to soothe some of the concerns I have in this signing. Reason nummer vier to be excited.
  • We have reasons to be cautiously optimistic, maybe even a little bit excited by this signing folks, which I think is a great position to be in. The Layvin Kurzawa stuff had everyone scratching their heads and wondering about the transfer team at The Arsenal, but this move could – I hope – turn out to be a shrewd bit of business. We probably only have a few months to work that out too, because he’s only here for a short period of time and at 26 he’ll know he won’t get many more opportunities to play in a big league if this doesn’t work out.

    I hope it does. Because if it does we may have solved a defensive issue and with the summer arrival of Saliba, we could even hope that we have a future pairing that sends us northbound on the Premier League table.

    Catch you lovely, lovely, people tomorrow.