Arsenal reportedly signed Kostantinos Mavropanos without Arsene Wenger’s knowledge according to a report in today’s edition of the Daily Mail.
Sam Mokbel writes, “Whoever replaces Wenger is unlikely to have the iron grip over transfers that he enjoyed during his reign as it emerges that Konstantinos Mavropanos was signed without the 68-year- old being consulted.
“The Greek defender arrived in January and made his senior debut in the defeat at Manchester United. But it is understood Wenger had virtually no input into the decision to sign the 20-year-old from PAS Giannina.
“The circumstances surrounding Mavropanos’s signing provide a clear indication of the direction Arsenal are headed in terms of their transfer strategy.
“Head of recruitment Sven Mislintat’s influence has grown significantly since his arrival in November. Mavropanos was signed on his recommendation. Wenger had fought hard to keep total control over the club’s recruitment but Mislintat will almost certainly become the key voice over transfers once a new boss is appointed.”
That would certainly fit with what was rumoured and given Arsene Wenger’s comments after the player was first signed, it does indeed seem like the player was signed without Wenger.
‘That Greek boy’. That’s how Arsene Wenger referred to him during his post Nottingham Forest press conference.
‘That Greek boy’.
He could have said ‘we’ve already signed a defender’ when asked about his likely transfer dealings during the January transfer window, or even simply said ‘we’ve already signed someone’.
As far as Greek names go, it’s one of the easier ones to say but even if Wenger thought he’d make a hash of it, there were plenty of ways he could have referred to Dinos (see, there’s one) that would have showed far less disdain for the 20-year-old’s arrival.
Humble, patient and loves to work hard: Greek football expert delivers Mavropanos verdict
Greek football expert and Sport24 reporter Dimitris Samolis reckons that Sven Mislintat unearthed a real gem in Mavropanos.
Mavropanos signed for Arsenal for £2m from Greek side PAS Giannina in January and got his first team debut, unexpectedly, against Manchester United on Sunday.
According to Samolis, the transfer caused waves in the 20-year-old’s homeland because they had not seen a youngster, who had made just 16 appearances in the Greek league, sign for a club like Arsenal before.
“Of course, there are Greek players who play in top level, like [Borussia Dortmund’s Sokratis] Papastathopoulos and [Roma’s Kostas] Manolas,” said the Greek football expert.
“But what surprised us is that a 20-year-old centre-back with 16 appearances will continue his career in Arsenal.
“Every newspaper and website gave so much focus to this transfer.”
“The biggest advantage of Mavropanos is his body. Tall player and powerful,” Samolis added.
“Although he is tall, he is also fast and agile. He is very good with the head, since he can score 5-6 goals per season.
“Very important with him is his character. Humble, patient and loves to work hard.”
Arsenal do need a first team centre-back at the moment given that they never replaced Gabriel when he signed for Valencia last summer. Nor have they replaced Per Mertesacker who retires from playing to take over as head of the academy at the end of the season.
Plus, Laurent Koscielny’s Achilles is giving him an increasing amount of hassle so it’s unclear how long he’ll play for and Mustafi seems to just blunder from one mistake to the next.
Although Mavro obviously isn’t the short-term solution we need right now, it’s good to see Arsenal preparing for the future and Mislintat getting stuck in already.
Greek agent: Arsenal fought off 5 clubs to sign Mavropanos
Vasilis Stachtiaris, a scout and agent who first recommended Mavropanos to PAS Giannina, says Arsenal competed with five European clubs to sign the defender.
Even though most Premier League fans 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.”
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.”
Those attributes were on show in the Arsenal first-team on Sunday. An absolute tank of a player, to the surprise of many accustomed to Arsenal’s defensive waifs, it’s not hard to see why Arsene Wenger opted not to loan him out.
The Greek u21 international has also played for the Arsenal u23s. He helped the youngsters to a couple of clean sheets in his five starts (with four wins), and earned positive reviews from those watching. He also picked up only one booking during those games, even though he played the full 90 in all of them.
Speaking after the match against Manchester United on Sunday, Wenger told reporters, “Mavropanos, in training he has shown top quality but then you always have a question mark as long as you don’t see that under pressure in a big game.
“Until that, you don’t know. The big players do better in the competition than in training. They make a career, the others… we have many players at our level who do less well in competition than in training.
“That was the question mark and I think he did well. He surprised everybody by his quality today.”