When David Ornstein speaks, Arsenal fans should listen. The Ornacle (as he is affectionately known around here - because it’s similar to oracle, get it?) reports that the Gunners are close to signing Greek defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos from Borussia Dortmund. Head of Recruitment Sven Mislintat appears to have a penchant for signing players he signed during his time at the German club.
Arsenal need help at centerback heading into next season. Laurent Koscielny will be out until at least November, Shkodran Mustafi is inconsistent, and Calum Chambers, Rob Holding, and Konstantinos Mavropanos are all relatively unproven. Papastathopoulos will be 30 when next season starts and is an experienced hand that could guide the Arsenal back line / mentor young defenders for the next two or three seasons. He had a strong year at Dortmund, winning nearly 90% of his tackles and amassing the second most tackles on the team.
Papastathopoulos is currently on £90,000 a week wages, which wouldn’t wreck the club’s wage structure but also isn’t cheap for a player whose best seasons are probably behind him. Arsenal are in a difficult position with their defense; they want to rebuild the back line but can’t hand things over to young, unproven players and expect to compete for a Champions League spot. Arsenal have also been linked with Swiss right back Stephan Lichtsteiner - the club clearly wants to add experience at the back this transfer window.
All told, Papastathopoulos would be a fine, if unspectacular, signing. He fills a need and could help the club transition out of the Mustafi/Koscielny partnership to younger options. He may not be a perfect fit, but you have to keep in mind he might be the only player available that makes sense from an age, transfer fee, and wage perspective.
While writers everywhere tremble at the prospect of a Papastathopoulos/Mavropanos combo, I welcome it. Just think, we could call the Arsenal defense “The Phalanx” and it would be awesome.