Prepare to ring the changes at Arsenal, as Unai Emery and Sven Mislintat dissect and repair the north London clubs jelly-like defensive.
According to reports in Evening Standard, the signature of the Greek international central defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos (29) is a mere formality and the deal will be announced in the coming days. It’s yet more evidence of Mislintat’s connections, as he raids Borussia Dortmund’s ranks to bolster the clubs main problem area.
The fee, thought to be around £16 Million, will be money well spent for a player with a formidable appetite and defensive prowess. Mislintat regards the experienced Greek who is on a £90,000-a-week wage at Dortmund, as a key acquisition and Emery is equally familiar with the player.
This is just part of a series of complicated moves that will completely change the structure and dynamics of the squad and it will obviously see a number of players head out of the Emirates. That number is said to involve at least six players who are not in Emery’s immediate thoughts and those sales will help with the new managers proposed spending plans.
So what are Arsenal getting for their money?. Well, they have secured the services of someone that has impressed at Milan, Genoa and Dortmund, hence the Mislintat connection. He played under Massimiliano Allegri, who was then at Milan and became something of a fan favourite.
In terms of ability, his stats are impressive for the 2017/2018 season. The combative defender won 68% of the personal, one to one duels he was involved in and Sokratis is only one of three players in the Bundesliga to achieve that. Add to that his excellent passing ability, which has an accuracy of 86.9 per cent and you begin to see the attraction.
Arsenal’s failure to clear their lines and turn defence into attack was key in a series of demoralising defeats that saw them lose to the likes of Brighton and Crystal palace and it was clear to everyone apart from Arsene Wenger that the personnel simply weren’t good enough.
Sokratis will add bite, determination and swagger to a back line that was as brittle as a cheese cracker, as the impetus changes from all out attack to resolute defending. He isn’t afraid to get involved and has great positional awareness, looking to break down the play by dispossessing the opposition before choosing an insightful pass to send the play in the other direction.
He does have a combustible temper, which will need to be contained within the realms of a bustling premier league and is no stranger to toe to toe altercations with the opposition. That alone appeals to me as an Arsenal fan who has watched many of the current squad lay down and roll over, seemingly unbothered by losing a game.
We haven’t really had that fighting mentality since the days of Keown, Adams and the man mountain that was Sol Campbell. It’s obvious that as long as he doesn’t get in to double figures for red cards, some sort of combative, aggressive spirit bodes well going forward. For many, it’s not a marquee signing but it really doesn’t have to be.
It needs someone with experience and quality who can assess the dangers and deal with them with an assured demeanour. Incidentally, anyone who fears that having the players name on the back of their shirt may cost them a second mortgage may be relieved to know that he will be referred to as Sokratis, so for a change, the humble fan may have money to spare.
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