Vasilis Stachtiaris, a scout and agent who first recommended Konstantinos Mavropanos to PAS Giannina, says Arsenal competed with five European clubs to sign the defender.
One of the less eye-catching transfers of the winter window, Mavropanos, moved to Arsenal from the Greek Super League for around £2.2m last month. Even though most fans of Premier League teams probably hadn’t heard of the centre-back, Stachtiaris was close to the deal, and says there was plenty of interest from elsewhere.
“Mavropanos had an agreement with Olympiakos before the Arsenal offer came in,” he told Goal. “But there were also advanced talks with Udinese. Two other teams from Spain, Eibar and Rayo Vallecano, were interested as well.
“We had talks with AEK Athens but the offer was low. So, Olympiakos were in pole position but he wanted mainly to play in a league abroad.”
Clearly Mavropanos was making a good impression in Greece, despite his limited senior experience.
The 20-year-old only made seven first-team appearances before this season. As a result, Stachtiaris says Arsenal need to manage the defender well to get the best out of him.
“He is an asset for Arsenal and the club must protect him and invest in his talent,” he said. “For example, [Greek defender Stathis] Tavlaridis didn’t develop in Arsenal, so, anything can happen in football. It’s only around 35 per cent [of players] that achieve success.”
“Greek football is not at the highest level of European football but this guy has the right elements [to succeed]. He is very strong, has agility, he is not lacking of technique.
“He’s great in the air, good with the ball at his feet and uses his height to his advantage. He can play with both feet, is very strong and works really hard.”
So far Mavropanos hasn’t had a chance to show those attributes in the Arsenal first-team. Still, he clearly did enough in training to convince Arsene Wenger not to loan him out.
Since then, the Greek u21 international has played for the Arsenal u23s. He’s helped the young side to a couple of clean sheets in his four starts, and earned positive reviews from those watching.
I’m not sure how many opportunities he’ll get to play in the first team this season, but being around the squad and in training every day is the best way to get chances. Hopefully when one comes along, he can prove he was worth the investment.