Sokratis Papastathopoulos hit back at condescending reports in the Greek media this weekend, after his appearance for the Arsenal u23s.

Sokratis Papastathopoulos at the Emirates Stadium with the Arsenal u23s (Photo via Arsenal Academy on Twitter)
Sokratis Papastathopoulos at the Emirates Stadium with the Arsenal u23s (Photo via Arsenal Academy on Twitter)

As we reported yesterday, Sokratis Papastathopoulos accepted an offer to play for the Arsenal u23s recently, starting with an appearance against Everton in the Premier League 2. He played over 70 minutes and helped them keep a clean sheet.

Greek outlet Gazzetta.gr reported on the appearance with the headline: “Not even Sokratis expected his career to end up like this at Arsenal”. However, the player hit back at that suggestion, insisting it was his choice to represent the team.

“The fact that I went and played with Arsenal u23s but also that I will play again until January at least is clearly my choice and my honour,” Sokratis said.

“In these 15 long years of my career, I have more than 560 appearances, over 25 goals, winning 6 titles in three different leagues, and three important tournaments with my country.

“My career is very big and will continue to grow even more, so you on the keyboard can continue to disrespect values and careers just to get a ‘like’ and a comment. We will speak from January.”

I think it’s extremely harsh to say anything negative about Sokratis in this situation. In many ways, he was just unfortunate to miss out on the Arsenal Premier League and Europa League squads.

Arsenal didn’t make the extra sale or two to open up space for him, and Sokratis being in the final year of his deal made him an easy target for exclusion. Napoli – touted as the favourites to sign him – ended up not needing a centre-back after failing to sell first.

None of that was Sokratis’ fault, and there’s no suggestion of laziness behind the scenes or public shows of dissent. Quite the contrary, he’s showing full respect to Arsenal and to the youth side he’s currently helping out.

Of course, the main aim of his appearances with the u23s is to get fit and sharp for a potential January move. Nothing in training quite reflects the intensity of competitive football, even if it’s competitive youth football. So it’s the smart choice for Sokratis to make.

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