Arsenal’s long-running search for an experienced, no-nonsense defensive rock to shore up a perpetually faltering backline could be bearing fruit ahead of this summer’s transfer window.
Bild have reported with some conviction that Borussia Dortmund’s Sokratis Papastathopoulos is on the verge of a transfer to the Emirates for €20m.
It ends level at the Emirates…
Reaching the final is going to be tough – but we CAN do it! Let’s stick together and do the job in Madrid 👊 pic.twitter.com/U6SRdb7Ozu
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) April 26, 2018
The 29-year-old is said to be on the move this summer, with North London his ‘probable’ destination, according to the report.
Arsenal’s interest in the Greek international will no doubt be lead by the influence of recently appointed Head of Recruitment, Sven Mislintat.
Since arriving at the Gunners, the scouting guru has been largely credited with an integral role in luring Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to the Emirates from former club Dortmund in January.
Great atmosphere great game from the lads!!! We deserved the win but still one game to go I’m sure we will do it. Be proud gunners!!💪🏽💪🏽💪🏽💪🏽 pic.twitter.com/u7cEMty1ny
— Aubameyang P-E (@Aubameyang7) April 26, 2018
Former Dortmund playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s move from Manchester United to Arsenal preceded Aubameyang’s move a week earlier, and it now appears that Mislintat’s Dortmund connections at Arsenal are set to grow further.
Sokratis is the kind of stout defensive presence which the Gunners have often lacked in recent years. This season in particular, the first-choice pairing of Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi has failed to consistently impress at the heart of Arsenal’s defence.
‘Laurent Koscielny kicking the ball in his own face, David Ospina allowing the ball through his legs and Shkodran Mustafi tripping over his own feet in an attempt to block the shot. It would take some manpower and money, but build a statue of that.’https://t.co/8ILJeUKdlO
— Football365 (@F365) April 26, 2018
The centre of Arsenal’s defence has often been the cause for issues of a ‘soft centre’, one which has regularly cost Arsenal big goals at crucial times. This was in evidence at no greater time than Thursday night’s conceding of a sucker punch away goal against Atletico Madrid.
1-0 up against the ten men of Atletico in the first leg of their crucial Europa League semi-final first leg at home, Arsenal were seemingly cruising towards a very positive first leg result ahead of the second leg at the Wanda Metropolitano.
One simple ball over the top of Arsenal’s defensive line was all it took for Ateltico to cut through the heart of the Gunners, with Antoine Griezmann capitalising on an error from Koscielny and leaving Mustafi slipping in his efforts as the French striker punished the home side.
Any potential deal for Sokratis would face competition from the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Juventus, who are all also credited with interest in the Greek centre-back.
Arsenal, though, will be hoping that the presence of Mislintat in negotiations would swing the deal their way. He was credited with having orchestrated Sokratis’ move from Werder Bremen to Dortmund in 2013.
The defender has gone on to enjoy consistent success at the heart of Dortmund’s rear-guard since, having won two DFL-Supercups and the German Cup once during his time in Dortmund.
Sokratis’ agent Konstantinos Farras is said to be in ‘close contact’ with the Gunners hierarchy, and Arsenal fans will be hoping that the Greek international’s potential arrival would go a long way towards solving their current defensive shortcomings.