Letting Mavrapanos leave will be a mistake
“He is our gladiator!”
“And when he makes a mistake, he hums around some Greek swear words. I like that.
“He’s just a tough dog.”
The dog (or more of a bulldog) that the Stuttgart coach Pellegrino Matarazzo is referring to was Arsenal’s Dinos Mavrapanos.
The Greek has spent two exceptional seasons in Germany with Nurnberg and more recently Stuttgart, and thus has naturally caught the eyes of many clubs.
Arsenal look determined to buy an experienced, ball-playing defender, who has a real presence at the back. Mavrapanos ticks all boxes.
But it feels like he is being overlooked by the Arsenal board with many reports suggested he will be used to generate cash.
The Athens born defender, who has two international caps, initially helped Nurnberg in avoiding relegation in the 2019/20 campaign from Bundesliga 2 and then aided an inspiring ninth place finish for promoted club Stuttgart in Bundesliga 1.
The 23-year-old ranked first for interceptions made out of all players in the Bundesliga last season, with 2.8 per game.
Perfect way to end the season! 🇬🇷 pic.twitter.com/n2HCL5L2NB
— Dinos Mavropanos (@DMavropanos) June 6, 2021
The Greek has such a positive spell that the Die Roten are willing to take him on loan for a further season or even purchase him outright.
Looking at his statistics, we arrive at more reasons on why Mavrapanos should be given a chance by Mikel Aretta at Arsenal next season.
The young defender’s Passes into the Final Third figure was an admirable 4.43. He also completed 0.37 Passes into the Penalty Area per 90 minutes last season. Those figures were superior to Rob Holding and David Luiz, two players who Arteta trusted more often than not last campaign.
Arsenal fans have not seen defense-cutting passes by their center-backs lately. That can change if the Gunners keep the Greek in London.
Mavrapanos is also calm when put under pressure with a figure of 5.87 Passes Under Pressure per 90 placing him in the top 30% of defenders in Bundesliga. That number was also better than Arsenal’s duo of Holding and Luiz.
— Gooner Talk (@GoonerTalk) May 16, 2020
The former Stuttgart man also played 3.75 Switches per 90, which placed him among the best defenders in the German League. Mavrapanos is also a good tackler, interceptor of the ball and is involved hugely in the team’s buildup with an average of 80.10 Touches per 90.
When his Stuttgart coach talked about him being a “beast,” the Greek’s disposition was clearly one of the factors behind the coach’s terminology.
Arsenal fans can expect a defender in the same mold of Olivier Giroud. A 75.4% Aerials Won figure was slightly less than the world-class Liverpool’s Virgil Van Dijk, somewhat on par with Manchester United’s Harry Maguire and better than Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos.
Now that’s what I call having a presence at the back!
There was a huge uproar among Arsenal fans when Mavrapanos kept coveted striker Erling Haaland at bay in Greece’s friendly against Norway last weekend.
The right center-back position should not be a priority for Arsenal, even though it does need strengthening.
Handing minutes to two extremely talented defenders in William Saliba and Mavrapanos would seem a rational decision. Rather than just splashing the cash on a center-back, who will take the precious minutes away from the duo.
It will also mean having a heavier moneybag, which can eventually help Arsenal in bolstering other areas of the squad, which are in a dire need of attention.