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 and received his debut against Manchester United this weekend.
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.”