Konstantinos Mavropanos is looking forward to a return to the Arsenal first-team, after recovering from an injury that kept him out for most of this season.
Mavropanos suffered a very poorly-timed groin strain right as his first season under Unai Emery was about to begin, and missed the rest of 2018 as he worked on his recovery. However, the centre-back has finally returned to the pitch, playing 71 minutes of u23 football last week on Monday.
Speaking to Arsenal.com, the Greek defender admitted he just wants to get back out there for the first team.
“I’m looking forward to coming back on to the pitch [now],” Mavropanos said. “I believe it will be a fresh start, but I will come back stronger and give my best efforts to join the starting XI.”
Mavropanos made his senior debut against Friday night’s FA Cup opponents Manchester United, and we’ll have to wait and see whether he gets the chance to be involved against them again on this occasion.
The fixture has already given the defender a lot of good memories though, and he describes it as the happiest day of his life, despite the unfortunate result in the end.
“I can remember the entire game, in fact, even the moments before we arrived there”, the Greek u21 international recalled. “For me, it was probably the happiest day I’ve had so far in my life. We conceded a goal in injury time and we were very unlucky in that moment but I think we had a good game as a team. Individually? I think I played well.
“Of course, I was a bit anxious and stressed (before the game) because it was going to be my first game with Arsenal but I coped with it.
“I was focused on the instructions of my manager and was very happy with my performance. I just looked at the pitch and said, ‘This is what I’ve been dreaming of all these years’. The only thing I wanted to do was enjoy it.”
Mavropanos surprised Arsene Wenger when he first joined, impressing in senior training sessions. The former Arsenal boss was initially planning to send the defender out on loan, but he ended up deciding to hold onto his new signing for the rest of the season.
Hopefully, the now 21-year-old has made a similar impression on Unai Emery, and he’ll get plenty of chances to prove himself in the near future. We’ve already seen with Rob Holding that the head coach is willing to make his young defenders regular starters, it’s up to Mavropanos to make sure he’s next in line.