He’s another piece to the Dortmund reunion that’s already underway at Arsenal. He’s got a name that you recognize but have no clue how to pronounce. The rumors are that he could be on his way to North London. He’s Sokratis Papastathopoulos, and yes I had to copy paste that into this article.
More importantly, what does this mean, is he actually any good, and how should I feel as an Arsenal fan?
According to WhoScored, Sokratis’ characteristics are as follows:
Passing – very Strong, aerial duels – very strong, tackling – strong and concentration – strong
The site lists him as having “no significant weaknesses”, but I take that more as he doesn’t really do anything that is below replacement level, not that he is a perfect footballer.
I compared Sokratis with some other Center Backs who I feel had good years in the premier league: Van Dijk, Otamendi, and Phil Jones. Among those four, Sokratis was first in tackles per game, first in off-sides won per game, and second in dribbled past per game. He was last in clearances, and committed the most fouls, which may be things to consider.
The verdict on him is out there: neither he nor Dortmund had an amazing season defensively. However I think there are some stats that show that he really did not have a bad year, and considering instability and fragility of Dortmund at times this year, it’s hard for me to really pin Sokratis as just being “past it”. I really think there’s more to it than that.
I hear a lot of people saying that we could do better than Sokratis, and we should be setting our sights much higher. Do I think that Sokratis is one of the premier defensive assets to have in Europe at the moment? No, I don’t. Do I think that he has clearly exhibited enough quality from his career at Dortmund to be respected as a good defender that can bring some more veteran leadership and structure to help sure up our back line? Absolutely I do. And the thing I think is not talked about the most: the price.
For a reported fee of under 20m Euros, we would hardly be breaking the bank for him. I fully expect that if we did go ahead and sign Sokratis, not only would we be able to make multiple other transfers this window, but I think it’s entirely likely that we could still make another move for one of the central defenders that have been rumored to be on our shortlist.
He’s 29, which means he still has productive years ahead of him, but he would bring some vital defensive experience to the dressing room that we’ve been sorely lacking. When a player of his quality is available for so cheap, it’s really hard for me to question this move.