Arsenal centre-back Pablo Mari has revealed that he wants to stay in Serie A after joining Udinese on loan during the January transfer window, potentially opening a route for WIlliam Saliba to return to the Emirates.
Mari found himself on the fringes of Mikel Arteta’s side during the first half of the campaign, making just two Premier League appearances. Since joining Udinese, the Spaniard has become a regular, missing just two matches as he re-establishes himself as a first-team star.
Gabriel Magalhaes and Ben White have formed an impressive partnership at the heart of Arsenal’s defence this season and with Rob Holding now first-choice back-up, opportunities would likely be limited for Mari were he to remain in north London for the 2022-23 campaign.
Now the 28-year-old has made his desires clear. While he will still have two years remaining on his Arsenal deal come the end of the season, his hear remains in Italy. “I’d like to stay in Serie A next season,” he said in an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport via Fabrizio Romano. “”I’m under contract until June 2024 with Arsenal – but I’m so happy here at Udinese.”
Mari’s departure could leave space in Arteta’s squad for another centre-back, particularly with Holding also linked with a move away. It could therefore leave room for highly-rated defender Saliba to come into first-team consideration next term.
The 20-year-old has spent the current campaign on loan with Marseille and is yet to play for the Gunners despite signing in the summer of 2019 from Saint-Ettiene. But Saliba remains uncertain what his future may hold
“I’ve never hidden the fact that I feel good here. I don’t know what my future holds, there’s still two months to go,” Saliba told RMC Sport, via The Mirror, back in March. “The most important thing is to qualify for the Champions League and go as far as possible in the Conference League.
“I think discussions will take place afterward, at the end of May to early June, between Arsenal and Marseille – we’ll decide at that point. But staying on here would definitely not be a bad idea, on the contrary, I know the city, my teammates, my manager. But it doesn’t depend on me.”
While Saliba certainly appears open to moving to Marseille permanently in the future, the promise of first-team football at Arsenal could prove enough to tempt him to stay, especially if Mari departs.