Unai Emery’s reign as Arsenal manager looks set to begin with two surprising signings. They may not be the signings we expected, but they are two acquisitions that the Gunners desperately needed. Alongside the free transfer of Stephan Lichtsteiner from Juventus, Arsenal is set to complete the signing of Borussia Dortmund centre-back, Sokratis Papastathopoulos. According to BBC, the deal will cost the Gunners around £16million.
Once again new head of recruitment Sven Mislintat’s connections in the game is coming into play. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang & Henrikh Mkhitaryan have already joined through the dealings of Mislintat, now Sokratis Papastathopoulos will follow suit.
Here’s what Sokratis Papastathopoulos will bring to Arsenal.
Often cited for his passionate displays, the Greek defender is one of the most committed defenders you’ll see in world football. The 29-year-old puts his body on the line every time he walks out onto a pitch. He learnt to channel that desire alongside concentration through the mentorship of Bayern defender Mats Hummels, but when the German left the Westfalenstadion in 2016, Sokratis was forced to fill the void left by the German. Hummels was more than a captain, he was a leader on and off the pitch.
With a young team to look after, Sokratis ensured he took the role of locker room leader. The dressing room at Arsenal is also filled with many young players who just need an around them. At Arsenal, there is also an evident lack of vocal leaders, Sokratis’ commitment provides a solution to that skill gap.
In a senior career stretching back to 2005, the 29-year-old has played in countries like Greece, Italy and Germany. On top of that, he’s represented his country 110 times at every level from the U17s. In his career, the Greek international has won three domestic trophies at club level. It’s that sort of winning mentality that’s needed at the Emirates.
Experience breeds know-how and throughout the years Arsenal has been accused of not being able to win when the chips are down. The Gunners don’t know how to win ugly and adopt a plan B. Having a defender like Sokratis in the ranks means Arsenal now have the ability to win in the unlikeliest of situations, especially when things aren’t going their way. Why? Because a winner like Sokratis will only inspire those around him to follow suit.
Last season, the Gunners conceded an embarrassing 51 goals, this is what cost them in the race for top four. Under Arsène Wenger, the defence was always a weak point but the acquisition of Sokratis improves this squad’s defensive capabilities ten folds. However, Arsène Wenger did leave Unai Emery some promising young defenders like; Konstantinos Mavropanos, Rob Holding & Calum Chambers.
But while they’re developing and still finding their feet, experienced defenders like Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Stephan Lichtsteiner will steady the ship for Arsenal in the next few seasons. Sokratis is a short-term fix to a long-term problem, but his presence and expertise will go a long way in preparing Arsenal’s next generation for Premier League glory.