Arsenal have committed David Luiz to a new one-year deal and signed fellow defenders Pablo Mari and Cedric Soares to four-year contracts as Mikel Arteta looks to build for the future. The club have also announced the extension of Dani Ceballos’s loan deal from Real Madrid until the end of the current season.
David Luiz’s contract extension comes only days after a woeful performance against Manchester City in which the 33-year-old Brazilian made crucial mistakes, conceded a penalty and was sent off. The Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher was damning, saying: “I don’t think we’ll ever see him in the Premier League ever again... I think that’s the last we’ll see of him. There is an option for Arsenal to give him a contract, but there’s no way David Luiz is getting a contract. I said that before the game.”
However Arteta has remained steadfast in his backing of Luiz, believing his quality and experience is in invaluable in central defence, an area of the team where Arsenal are not blessed with strength or depth.
Technical director Edu told the club’s website: “I am really happy that we will have these players in our squad for the future. They have been part of the long-term technical plan (head coach) Mikel (Arteta) and I have developed. They bring the right balance to our squad.
“David is a really important player for us. He has played most of our matches this season and has been important for the team. His passing, his communication with the team on and off the pitch. He helps everyone.”
Mari, who joined on loan from Brazilian side Flamengo in January, has barely featured in the side but has signed a permanent deal for around £4m, and Arteta hopes the 26-year-old Spanish centre-back can play a key role in the team’s future. Mari may miss the rest of the current season with sprained ankle ligaments.
Likewise Soares joins permanently after a short-term loan from Southampton for a fee of around £6.5m. The right-back has not made a single appearance, having struggled with a knee injury.
Edu continued: “With Pablo we’re all disappointed he got injured at Manchester City. Since Mikel arrived here he was asking for a central defender who was left-footed. We were really pleased with Pablo – his behaviour, the way he is training, his mentality and his quality. Unfortunately, he has that injury but of course we are really happy to keep him for the future.
“Cedric is also going to be an important player. He has been unlucky with the injuries but he is close to being ready and gives us more strength in the right-back position. We’re also pleased Dani will finish the season here. He is making a good contribution and we look forward to him having a strong finish to the season.”
Arsenal are back in action on Thursday evening with the visit of Southampton.