Arsenal have signed defender Konstantinos Mavropanos from Greek side PAS Giannina for an undisclosed fee.The 20-year-old had been in talks with the Gunners after making 16 Greek Super League appearances following his breakthrough last season into the first team. Mavropanos, who was also wanted by Olympiacos, has represented Greece Under-21’s and is recognised as one of his country’s best prospects. Born in Athens, Mavropanos began his career with the youth side at Apollon Smyrni where he stayed for eight years. He then joined Superleague Greece side PAS Giannina in January 2016, signing a three-and-a-half year contract. After being named on the bench for the first team’s games against Panathinaikos and Xanthi, the then-teenager made his senior debut against Agrotikos Asteras in the Greek Cup back in November 2016, playing the full 90 minutes and helping his side keep a clean sheet. Konstantinos’ performance was rewarded with a second start against Kalloni, in which he scored his first goal, the third in PAS’ 3-1 win at Stadio Municipal. Coach Giannis Petrakis showed his faith in Mavropanos by handing him league starts against Veria and AEK Athens in April. He was named man of the match in the latter, a 1-1 home draw.
The defender made his Greek Super League debut in the next few months and, after a string of impressive performances in PAS’ back line, established himself as an integral first-team player. This has been his breakthrough campaign, though. A regular since the start of the season, Mavropanos’ form was recognised with a call-up to Greece’s Under-21 squad in October. Coach Antonis Nikopolidis, goalkeeper as Greece won the 2004 European Championships in Portugal, has been impressed with the defensive prodigy.
Konstantinos Mavropanos’s Style of Play
The first thing that stands out about Mavropanos is his size at 6-foot-4, meaning he will be well suited to the physical demands of the Premier League. Arsenal’s defence has often been criticised for not being physical enough, but Mavropanos could easily change that. One of the things that makes him an interesting prospect is that he matches his size and his physicality with his speed. He’s super agile for a guy that size. You would expect him to be kind of lumbering and clumsy when you first look at him, but he’s actually quite nimble.He has proven to be a defender who does not make a lot of mistakes in possession or in terms of positioning or one-on-one defending.Apart from being very strong, he is also very effective in the air, relatively quick and a player with great personality. He has netted three league goals this season, all of them headers from set pieces. But he’s relying on more than just his physical traits to dominate in the air. As much as his size, it’s the timing of his jumps. He has a natural ability to hang in the air and times his jumps, whether in attack or defence. But especially in set-piece situations going forward, his ability to jump combined with his size is what makes him such a threat. With a bit of tutoring from Arsenal’s more experienced defenders he can actually become a bit of a weapon.
Wenger gave a curt assessment of Mavropanos on Wednesday, saying “he’s not ready to play for us yet.” And there are still plenty of aspects the 20-year-old needs to work on before being ready for the Premier League. He needs to improve his technique and the tactical part of his game. Mavropanos is an extremely hard worker who has improved at every stage of his career. He is considered a humble, down-to-earth player who is very coachable. Even as a young player, he displayed strong character and showed a willingness to be a leader on the pitch. Another thing is the ability to deal with pressure. PAS are a small club in Greece and not a lot of is expected of them in the Greek league. So he needs to learn to deal with the pressure of being at a bigger club, and an environment where the pace is faster both on and off the pitch. Mavropanos is expected to be sent out on loan to Werder Bremen for the rest of the season, which could be a perfect place to grow. Greek players have really done very well in Germany, especially defenders in the last few years & Werder Bremen have also traditionally played a fairly attractive style of football that is similar to Arsenal’s so it makes total sense. In Greece there’s a lot more time on the ball than you will in England, so his decision making is something that will have to improve dramatically. But Germany is a good learning ground for that.
Mavropanos, is one of the players to be identified by the club’s new scouting team, led by newly appointed head of recruitment Sven Mislintat. There could be a spot opening up in the near future, with captain Per Mertesacker retiring in the summer and Nacho Monreal and Laurent Koscielny both the wrong side of 30. Rob Holding and Calum Chambers have yet to convince either. The Arsenal first team does not appear to be a reality at the moment, but with some game-time on loan, then perhaps he could develop into a player that can compete for a spot in the Gunners’ squad. For now, though his young charge must work on certain aspects of his game in order to make the leap into the Premier League as smooth as possible.
We also like to end this article with a skills video of him.