Can Konstantinos Mavropanos succeed at Arsenal?


Last Sunday, Arsenal loanee Konstantinos Mavropanos made his debut for the Greece national team in a 2-1 win over Honduras.

The Gunners have five senior centre-backs currently in the squad and Mikel Arteta, who had already let go of both Sokratis and Shkodran Mustafi in January, will have to decide whether the Greek defender will be a part of his plans next season.

Mavropanos spent the second half of the 2019/20 season on loan at Nürnberg, where he made an impression on the management staff at Stuttgart as they gained promotion back to the Bundesliga. This season, the German side sit in a very respectable ninth place in their first season back in the top division and they are in contention to qualify for a spot in a European competition.

The 23-year-old defender has helped Stuttgart get some big wins this season including 5-1 victories over both Borussia Dortmund and Schalke, but does he fit the style of football Arteta is instilling at The Emirates?

Mavropanos has been a brilliant defensive asset for Stuttgart this season and has shown he has the capability to compete in big moments. His ability to intercept the ball (averaging three interceptions per game) has caught the eye of many and it is clear he likes to tackle, sometimes a bit aggressively, and he is strong in the air.

However, a possible weakness that could hinder his future in North London is his passing. Despite a pass success rate of 77.4% this season, he has been caught out a few times when playing out from the back. Arteta has shown that he intends his side to play from the back in the future, making passing a very important factor when considering the signing of defenders.

Since the turn of the new year, Arteta has favoured four centre-backs when choosing his side; Gabriel Magalhaes, David Luiz, Rob Holding, and Pablo Mari. The manager has a big summer ahead of him as he will need to decide who to keep, sell and potentially buy.

David Luiz has been at Arsenal for almost two seasons but he has already had a rollercoaster ride at the club. He helped the club win their 14th FA cup but has also been sent off three times under Arteta. His contract expires in the summer and, despite a few clumsy moments on the pitch, his presence in the dressing room cannot be questioned and will be a factor when the contract talks occur.

A direct competitor for a place in next season’s squad for Mavropanos will be William Saliba. Like the Greek, Saliba is currently on loan as he gains first-team experience at Nice in Ligue 1. He has averaged 0.9 tackles and 1.6 interceptions so far this season but his most impressive attribute has been his passing as he has 90.1% success rate when moving the ball and averaging 69 passes per game. Arteta has said he is keeping an eye on both loanees with the interest of bringing them both back to the club.

An important figure in Mavropanos’ future is former Arsenal head of recruitment, Sven Mislintat, who is now Stuttgart’s sporting director. He helped Arsenal sign the defender back in 2018 and is keen to keep him on loan at the German club for another season but admitted it would be difficult to do so with the player improving game after game.

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