Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis confirms the club are trying to sign Sokratis Papastathopoulos from Arsenal this summer.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 06: Sokratis Papastathopoulos of Arsenal heads towards goal during the FA Cup Third Round match between Arsenal FC and Leeds United at the Emirates Stadium on January 06, 2020, in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND: Sokratis Papastathopoulos of Arsenal heads towards goal on January 06, 2020. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Speaking to the media this week, Napoli chief De Laurentiis confirmed the recent rumours that the club are pursuing Sokratis Papastathopoulos of Arsenal in the current window.

“We’re working to get Sokratis Papastathopoulos from Arsenal,” De Laurentiis said. “We’re considering him as an option.”

Italian outlet Corriere del Mezzogiorno (via AreaNapoli) previously reported that Sokratis was hoping to leave Arsenal for free this summer. Napoli are after the centre-back, with Gennaro Gattuso personally contacting the player over a move.

The 32-year-old still has another 10 months on his contract, but he’s trying to convince the Gunners to cancel that deal so he can move to Italy for free. Arsenal would miss out on a transfer fee but save 10 months of wages they could spend on other players.

Now, it seems Napoli are trying to get him for free seeing as the defender gave them the idea.

Sokratis Papastathopoulos of Arsenal celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the FA Cup Fifth Round match between Portsmouth FC and Arsenal FC at Fratton Park on March 02, 2020 in Portsmouth, England.
PORTSMOUTH, ENGLAND: Sokratis Papastathopoulos of Arsenal celebrates after scoring on March 02, 2020. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

Sky Sports report that Napoli hold an interest in Sokratis for a summer transfer to Italy. However, they’re hoping to negotiate a move without a transfer fee.

Di Marzio make the same claim, that the Serie A side are hoping for an agreement to bring the player in for free. They add that Arsenal are demanding compensation, though, and have even proposed an extension for Sokratis if he doesn’t leave.

Whether Arsenal seriously want to extend the centre-back’s deal, or they’re just posturing to try and convince Napoli to pay up, it’s hard to say.

According to recent reports, Napoli are growing more and more likely to sell Kalidou Koulibaly to Manchester City this summer. That would certainly explain why they’re in the market for a centre-back. But it also suggests they’ll bring in a large sum of money.

Kalidou Koulibaly (Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images)
Kalidou Koulibaly (Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images)

They can hardly claim they can’t afford at least a few million for Sokratis whilst selling Koulibaly for more than ten times that amount.

Previous reports from Italy suggested Arsenal and Napoli had a €4.5m agreement for the centre-back. Either that wasn’t true, or the situation changed. The Gunners need to sell because they have too many centre-backs and not enough money right now.

If Mikel Arteta doesn’t plan to use the player, it’s obviously good to let him go and play somewhere else. The alternative is potentially damaging the mood in the squad when the lack of games unsettles him.

There are parallels to the situation with Laurent Koscielny last summer, who also wanted out for free. But that caused such a negative reaction at Arsenal because he was a key player in the team. The Gunners needed him, so it only made sense to sell for a fee.

By comparison, Arsenal were barely using Sokratis during the injury-hit latter stages of last season. When Pablo Mari and Calum Chambers return and with William Saliba and Gabrel Magalhaes already signed, let alone anyone else, it’s hardly going to make the Greek international a more crucial member of the squad.

Letting him go for a small fee, or no fee at all, isn’t such a ridiculous request.