Sokratis to Join: A Greek-Egyptian CB Partnership for Arsenal?

“He is a man of courage who does not run away, but remains at his post and fights against the enemy” Socrates

Arsenal are being heavily linked with Sokratis Papastathopoulos, a central defender who will turn 30 in a few weeks time and currently plays for B Dortmund. BBC’s Ornstein is reporting Arsenal are in talks with the German team (who finished fourth last season), and that often means that we are close in getting the player.

Who is Sokratis Papastathopoulos?

He played 50 games in all competitions last season for BD, and he played almost 200 (198) games in 5 years – an average of 40 games per season – for Dortmund since joining them in 2013. In total Sokratis played just under 400 games, and his career as a regular player only really started when he joined Werder Bremen in 2011 after spells at Genoa and Milan.

See the source image

The Greek is 186cm tall and has some fine, albeit not top of the German league, defensive stats: 86.9% pass success percentage in the Bundesliga (94.2% in CL), and 2.8 aerials won, 2.2 tackles, 63.4 passes and 3.5 clearances per game. The video below gives us an idea of how he plays:

He appears to have a healthy aggression and a mean and well-timed tackle. It looks like he plays on the right hand side – Mustafi’s position – of the centre of defence. At an estimated £16m – only one year of his contract left – Sokratis offers experience at top level and he would allow the likes of Chambers, fellow countryman Mavropanos, Mustafi and Holding to develop further, and possibly take over from him gradually.

If it were to go through, the question remains whether we will buy another CB this summer. Doubt remain re Mustafi’s abilities to claim a first team position next season and Koz is out till the end 2018 (or there about). Who of the above mentioned players would be the ideal partner for Sokratis as long as Koz is unfit? Or will Elneny, who surprisingly got the nr.4 shirt for next season, be slotted next to the Sokratis? You have heard it here first! 🙂

By TotalArsenal


30 thoughts on “Sokratis to Join: A Greek-Egyptian CB Partnership for Arsenal?

  • Still feel another CB is coming TA.
    Though am on-board with Elneny ‘morphing’ into a hybrid CB/MF.
    There were three occasions last season where AW had used this strategy. First, with Coquelin vs City (in essence a flat back-5) Then with Elneny vs Doncaster, and again vs Milan away, moving in/out as circumstances dictated.

    Not yet even the ‘honeymoon’ phase– but early in the ‘how is this going to work’ phase– of UE’s tenure? Can’t have ‘7 pressing’ and ‘6 at the back’ now can we? But there is a hint from the Newman already.

    In the form of Emery’s “I’d rather win 5-4 than 1-0” quote.
    Sounds like it’s going to come down to finishing rates to me.
    Last shot– wins?

    I look to City’s setup in defense for the most plausible possibility.
    Recall in Pep’s first season, Nicolas Otamendi looked lost. Stones error-prone. Zabaleta and Kolarov shadows of themselves. First time in Pep’s storied career– no silverware.

    Year two, it came down to Otamendi picking up what was required positionally and in decision-making in City’s half of the pitch. Adding Kenny Walker– the speedster to run down counters– a voila! City’s defense becomes among the best when paired with Pep’s press.

    Here’s a late-January piece on City’s defending as a sensible assumption for a model– for what UE might install:

    (My post, my biases– I’m excluding Mustafi from this equation. Please humor me.)

    Could Arsenal retool with current personnel to pull it off? Or a reasonable facsimile? That depends. On whether someone (like Elneny?) could emulate Otamendi without a full season of assimilation. We have the speedster in Bellerin. The solid, workmanlike Monreal. Potentially good young LCBs in Holding and Mavropanos (with Koscielny possible mid-season). Is Sokratis the Otamendi-piece required?

    Further, would Rabiot or Nzonzi slot in (as Fernandinho)? Can Ramsey (or Mkhi at times) give us a modicum of what KDB provides B2B?

    Arsenal are not as far off as last season indicated IMHO.


  • Other than being 30 years old, with only a few years more to perform for us at top level, I would have no problems with his acquisition as a partner for Mustafi. However, the attraction to Sokratis is rather curious given the number of younger, equally gifted (albeit, costlier) targets. There’s the
    young Turkish player with Hoffenheim, Caglar Soyuncu, who is rumoured to be a target of the club.

    One thing I’ve learnt from the failings of some clubs like Spurs and even Liverpool, in a certain transfer window, is that wholesale acquisitions and changes don’t always result in a great season. Mustafi is young and will learn. Socrates’ is not too dissimilar to Mustafi’s style; whether they can play together is another consideration to be had; I hope they can, in situations where we are up against a quick side.

    All in all, we look to be trying to plug the areas of weakness.

    Off topic, any chance Bellerin gets called up to replace the injured Carvajal for Spain? Of course, that’s on the off chance he was named in the stand-by list.

  • Great points there, jw1. I don’t think we need to make too many additions either, hence my trust in Mustafi getting better. Elneny isn’t much of a tackler so, unless for tactical reasons (to have an additional body in defence, who has good transitional skills), I can’t see that conversion to CB happening under Newman.

    At £16m, maybe Sokratis isn’t such a bad acquisition, for the experience and his command of the area. If Lichtsteiner should join up, who’s to know if he will displace Bellerin just on his better defending abilities?

  • Hey, Good one, TA… And, yes, I can try to be a bit better (or maybe a lot better) when it comes to getting personal about responding to other comment writers… Again, sorry… On that note, however, I’m feeling mis-understood about my theses from the past post so I might try and write one of my own that I might (even be able to) spin positively… Hard to say if I’ll get to it… I’ve yet to have my 2nd coffee…but it’s also pretty sunny and nice outside…

    If Wenger made Arsenal into France’s biggest club, it seems to me that we’re Dortmund’s biggest club now under Sven. It’s not quite the same but it’s something given that BvB sports an 80,000+ stadium and can thus offer the 2nd biggest salaries in Germany to up and comers, Bayern (obviously) hoovering up the rest, but also (of course) buying more developed guys, including BvB players. If we can be competitive with that team, it’s exactly what Gazidis promised way back whenever it was that he said that thing…

    All that said, I only watch Dortmund when we play them and it’s been a few years since we last hit them in the CL…so I know little about the Greek. To my mind, we’ll be lucky if we get more out of Kos than we did (post injury) Santi, so bring him in, I say. A lot of folks get overly worried about EXACT positions, but not me. If he can play RCB he can play CB (either side) and maybe he can play RB too. Will we bring in two veterans on free transfers in that area–the guy who licks the beer glass AND the greek philosopher? That seems about a half a player too much, esp. if all three of the young guns: Chambers, Holding and Mavro are gonna stay with the first team

    It seems like something is gonna happen back there so very good, very good I say and that should put those who thought sending Gabby back to Spain (a guy who never really impressed me, I hate to say…) at greater ease. Elneny as a “flex-back” (DM who can also root himself in the middle of a back 3) seems a nice option, esp. if scorelines or opponent tactics are different from what we expected entering a match…

    And then, finally, for those whose defensive re-make ideas stop at Mustaphi Out(!!!)… Sok in, should offer the “hope” they cherish…

  • Oops, I guess Sok wouldn’t be on a free… 16 Million pounds, however = almost free in this day and age…

    There will NOT be wholesale changes just because we have a new manager. This is ACTUAL football, not Football Manager or whatever other fantasy games, folks play (and then actually go on to believe…) If big changes are made, say, 3 changes to our best back 5 (I’m including a keeper here, given that people seem down on our combo of Cechkarius and Ospinalmunia), I would expect regression (dropped points) before the progress, which again isn’t quite as magical as what we see in the fantasy simulations…

    So, in the end, despite the ‘uge number of goals shipped this past season, I’m with J-Dub, that the current squad isn’t quite as woeful as the baby-with-bathWenger’s would have you believe…

  • Thanks Eris!


    “Arsenal’s success depends on Mustafi.”
    Say that a few times. Let it sink in.

    Then realize Arsenal finished 5th, then sixth since his arrival.
    Two of the 3 highest GA totals going back to 1988.
    The one change to our back four since Bellerin took over for Debuchy/Sagna.

    HT– it doesn’t stop at ‘Mustafi out’ for me regarding revisioning the D. It’s not a matter of liking/not liking. But I refuse to bet on a player who from age 24– has not been getting better through age 26– but declining.

    Every external indicator– from decreasing transfer value year-over-year, to Joachim Low omitting him from a long list of defenders for the WC? Means it is not just me– nor me looking to confirm my bias. Those are all facts above.

    Watched him all season. An athlete with all the required tools to be a good– and borderline very good player? IMO, his mental failings magnified the weaknesses of those around him. The exact opposite of what is desired.

    As a cardinal rule in building a team– I don’t trust players who have let me down. I’m past that point with Mustafi. So no. As a DoF? I take the value I can get from him– find another player with similar physical traits, and look to get a more mature decision-maker in that player.



  • Interedting post, TA.
    From that little clip of Papas, he looks a similar kind of defender to Musti ….. front footed. If that’s the case we’d have two similar CDs as I believe Musti is staying.

    Emery clearly alerted all that pressing is key to his game. A high pressing side plays a high line to avoid big spaces between lines as a bunch (7@jw) presses high up. Front footed defenders are preferable in high defensive lines. So Papas and Musti might actually suit Emery.

    Again with a high defensive line Elneny is out as a CD. Elneny has amazing stamina but no speed. Secondly as Eris pointed out, he is no tackler but very good at closing opponents down.

  • Thanks T A interesting post. Have to say he exactly what we need, although he may get an early bath now and again. Looks like a captain to me. I still think Mustaphi can be the man though . Did we go about 20 games unbeaten when he first arrived?with the right coaching ?

    With thrpr other Greek guy and Chambers and holding improving we appear to be getting better. But let’s not even consider Elneny there. Let’s use Specialist players in key positions, not round pegs in square holes. If we were forced by injuries, Nacho rarely lets the team down.

  • PE–
    I’m not doubting Mustafi’s athleticism one iota. He should fit well into a high-press– in theory. But are you comfortable backing Mustafi to position himself with discipline, and make decisions on the level of either Otamendi or Kompany?

    I can’t give him that kind of faith as freely as you do– after last season.

    Per Mertesacker is a great example of lacking great physical tools– and exhibiting fine decision-making. How is it that with an example like Per available– with the same native language and national team experiences– that Mustafi could possibly regress as a player?


  • Cheers guys 🙂

    Some fine comments to a quickly written post, adding a lot more content to the discussion.

    I don’t think we will be pressing high as a team constantly under Emery. A number of players – the attackers and one or two midfielders – will do the pressing but the defence will sit back more, I reckon. That is what I remember from the way PSG played. I would welcome that as the risk of turnover-counters is far too high and would make us vulnerable, and I just want us to play more compact and secure (at least to start with).

    I reckon Elneny is an organiser who is good at keeping the defensive shape and playing the ball out of defence well. Yes he is not a natural tackler but is that really necessary in the modern game? It just surprised me that he took on nr.4 shirt which could indicate he is moving towards the defence.

  • I love the idea of Master-emissary arrangements in the squad:
    Bels – Lichtsteiner
    Mavropanos/Holding – Sokratis

    The younger ones can learn from the older ones and together they provide good cover for the positions and opportunities to (still) excel in their roles.

  • TA, I’ve got a post pretty much in the can… Do with it what you like, but–if you like it and want to put it out–please fix the photo since it’s still beyond me why they just. don’t. show. up… Also, I got your e-mail (cheers!) and I’ll be aiming to get back to you later this week. Today’s a bank holiday…so I’m laying low trying to avoid the tourists…

    ‘Eris, I thought the exact same thing about Bellerin and the Spanish Nat’l team when Carvajal went down. Of course the television coverage on his injury was very (very) poor. They actually showed him trotting back on the pitch then broke to a replay of the Ramos-Salah tackle…Next thing you know, there’s Dani (Carvajal) in tears. I guess I could check on Marca or AS for some more detailed news/speculation…

    JW… I don’t think I was trying to troll you back up there, but you never know… 😉 Also, I do plan on getting back to you (via e-mail)… Let’s get this game 7 resolved first, however… (Gulp…)

    Here’s how I look at the defending (and defenders). If you only make one (or two or three) mistakes per match that led to goals and each one is only (let’s say…) a 2 second blip… Then you really played 90+ minutes of mistake free defense…right?…

    I guess I’m in a bit of a silly mood today… Better than being a total hard-arse, no?…

    More seriously, I think we’ll have to see what the new management structure brings (or, as some folks will surely assert, the new manager…) but… the whole key between attack and defense is about “freedom”… Wenger was (supposedly…) good in getting his attackers (or was it all his players?…) to play with freedom. The problem comes in that mistakes in certain parts of the pitch–or when the spaces on the pitch are occupied in vulnerable ways–can kill you (or lead to an opposition goal). We should NOT be “free” to make those errors. Mustafi maybe interpreted AW a bit too, er, freely…

    In my view, Mustafi is talented enough to rise to the top in a well organized rear-guard. That means solidity around him. In retrospect, the center of our defense, the GK and the other CB position, never felt settled this past season, IMO–while ahead of him you had a mess too. Did Xhaka ever have a reliable partner in a DM two?… Bells is all about the going forward (all treble, no bass?…) While Kola seemed that way too and Nacho surely enjoyed the attacking end a bit himself… There was also some residue about 3 vs 4 (2 CBs) at the back…. Overall, a mess, and Skhodran’s price-tag and that (faux) good-settling stat–the streak of matches undefeated w/him in the line-up during his early days perhaps was a false dawn (or source of too much hope/pressure on his shoulders)… We’ll see what goes down for him under Unai(ted) (Arsenal) Emery(ates), though I’m sure the manager will be reading here (there and everywhere, to quote some obscure English band…) to note Gooners’ preferences…

  • jw, ….. imo, collaborated by WhoScored and Squawka PPS, Mustafi is not as bad as all the hue and cry make him out to be. There is the arguement of declining value, but if the best defender is put in a team that has its defensive structure wrong he’d appear bad. The link below is the graph of his market value and the drop is not as dramatic as is being suggested. If we truly bought him for £30m, we bought poorly. A lot of Arsenal players this poor season must have dropped in value also.

  • PE–
    The Transfermarkt link is hardly a solid in Mustafi’s favor.
    Independent of what he was purchased for? His total value has dropped precipitously — by approx 15% between Jan 2 -May 28 2018. Are you going to hold this asset– or sell it on?
    (Particularly when it’s rumored you could buy a like asset (Sokratis) that is for sale at €16M / rated at €22M?)

    Wish I had J-Low on speed-dial! 🙂


  • jw, half a season. Are we doing day trading? Such swings happen in many players profile. I’d say we give it a season and half and if there is no reversal we can then cut our loss.

  • jw … resale value is always a factor in the equation. 30 yrs next month, I think, Papas doesn’t give a resale value. Meanwhile Ozil at about the same age is rated at €50m. The value, other things equal, is an indication of the level. Papas is no Koulibaly. I feel we should value a little bit more, what we have.

  • PE–
    Resale value is the -only- reason Mustafi isn’t valued lower.
    Over a two-and-a-half year span 2016 to present?
    Mustafi has had TWO drops of 20% of his value!

    Not day trading. That’s a sizable sample of his career.


  • Sokratis is interesting choice, I assume Sven knows as well as anyone if he still has what it takes. Good defenders now cost 50 mil up to 70 thanks to irresponsible clubs like city and stupid Liverpool. Pool went that high because city began sniffing around van dijk so they had no choice..overall bad for the game.

    I thought 35 mil was going to be a high level for a few years. I should have known the corrupt oil money would ruin more than just attackers prices, so i think we will need to find value a la Sven and develop through good coaching. I choose to believe we now have that kind of manager for defenders as well as scorers.

    I think the right kind of discipline instilled is exactly what Mustafi needs. To my eyes, he has great abilities in pace, strength, leap, aggressiveness… not afraid to use his body at all. I think he can be an actual great defender, but needs to reign in his forward runs, he often plays in absolute winger positions. It really astonishes me to see where he is at times.

    I was disappointed to see the collapse of financial fair play. Again, because oil money teams challenged in court, so the plan really is impotent. Not to mention they pad profits with their owners own companies sponsoring at ridiculous numbers. Fake profits!
    We were depending on ffp as a club. Those same types of owners with the escalation of Neymar and Mbappe prices, along with over 150 mil on 3 fullbacks at man city, examples, have done lasting damage to the game.

  • Sokratis appears to be TA, the type of player we’ve lacked for the last two seasons, an aggressive physical presence at the heart of our defence, he’s played at the top level in both Italy and Germany where defensive coaching is taken seriously.

    So what to do with all our defenders ; Mavropanos, Chambers, Holding, Mustafi, Koscielny, Elneny perhaps? Especially if Mislintat can pull off a deal as well for the young Turkish defender…

    And the answer is? I haven’t a clue….

    But isn’t that great, the uncertainty, none of us know because it’s all new and exciting and different.
    I haven’t looked forward to a new season like I am for 2018/19, in years, because it’s not gonna be predictable, it’s not going to be the same old thing and to me Total, that is so bloody refreshing.

    Roll on August 😄

  • First, a quick comment to nyc,

    I was / am also a huge fan of FFP, frankly. I think it will also come back as all leagues become increasingly multi-tiered (i.e. more so than now).

    However, interestingly, look at what 150M will buy these days, would you rather 1 or 2 players, 1 of whom might be injured or rested, or 4 at 35M or 6 at 25M or whatever combos you want?

    In a way going so far overboard and over the top will, I think/hope/pray, bring back FFP as well as render those paying such prices merely overpriced teams of not much more ability. Atletico Madrid are a good example of clear second tier getting their shots in versus huge first tier teams (Barca, RM).

    Oh, and I believe this, because living in NZ with the worlds best rugby teams dominating completely over the Aussies and S. Africans, when it’s boring to watch and pre-determined. Wait for it .. people stop watching and the price of the TV rights falls… dramatically…

    Just my 2p..

  • Kev, you are our very own Socrates of the blog. A wise cabbie guiding us through the ethical wilderness and competitive challenges of football. 🙂

  • Liv has signed Fabinho, one of the best DM in Europe. It is a reminder that the top 4 race is a vicious one. I heard that we made a late bid for him. That kind of story that I hate to hear.

    Because we shipped in 51 goals we are nearly all imprisoned in the belief that it was all due to the defence. Our midfield is maybe even more culpable and the danger is that we seem mesmerized by the fact that our MFders are so good with the ball, that we are unable to see that they are so poor without the ball.

    Xhaka turns too slowly, lacks athletism, poor in the tackle.
    Ramsey lacks positional discipline.
    Wilshere lacks defensive awareness and seems too lightweight to win balls.
    Iwobi just goes through the motions of defending.
    Ozil is reluctant to get involved defensively.
    Elneny is more rounded but he can’t tackle and lacks speed.
    Sum all these up and what jumps out is a MF that can be sliced through with ease.

    We need a bold decision here. At least 2 of these players should go and be replaced by 2 better rounded midfielders including a ball playing DM.

    Liv is being taken for granted. Their owners are courageous. They are determined to re-establish Liv at the top level. Top four would not come with strolling.

  • PE

    I would welcome a new DM. However, Kola, Nacho, Mustafi can tackle, have speed, have positional discipline and tons of character and energy…. They are also good passers and can play the ball out from defence/deep midfield… IF we want to play with a classic DM it will not be a problem. I reckon it is a lot more important to defend as a team with the right tactics. And the nr.1 priority is a quality CB (or two) to settle down the defence.

    Re Pool, don’t be surprised if they are pants next season and Klopp will leave after Christmas or end of the season.

  • TA, …. Mustafi would be good at DM. To start with he is a destroyer. Secondly he likes line breaking passes but lacks the composure to be a metronome. I wish Nacho wasn’t too one footed, he would have been fine there being a good reader of the game. Kola is the one I don’t see succeeding there.

  • PE, I would love to see any of them start with Xhaka next to them, Rambo or Jack in the hole and three of MKhi, Laca, Ozil and Auba in attack. Would love it. Kola would eat Kante, Dembele and that lanky, overrated lad at Manure if given a chance.

  • Hi All,

    I won’t get into who goes best where.

    I will put my chips down on better system defense being the culprit, and also exposing weaknesses. Equally, lack of cohesion in defense mattered. Sometimes it was like watching three systems / approaches in action all at once. Disaster waiting to happen.

    I think Bould going to may, if it happens, also be a good thing. Somewhere the great defending as a team we had got lost. In our defenders as well as our MFs, and especially all working together. Perhaps it was the organisation offered by BFG and Santi more than their skills defending that made us way stronger even a few years back? We need that cohesion back in any form, and we will be fine.

    I won’t pick or move players because it’s more about, to me, looking for fixit solutions to a systems problem.

    Agreed with Kev re predictability and fresh start this coming year!

    My several pence — jgc

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