Arsenal are reportedly close to making Sokratis Papastathopoulous their first signing under new head coach Unai Emery. The Gunners have been in constant with the player’s representative in recent weeks and a £16m deal is now likely to be finalised, according to BBC Sport’s David Ornstein.
The Gunners had a poor 2017/18 season where they averaged less than one point on the road and much of this resulted from their poor defensive record which saw them concede over 50 goals for the first time under the Arsene Wenger era.
As such, the hierarchy appear to have placed a keen emphasis on bolstering the backline ahead of 2018/19 campaign and head of recruitment Sven Mislintat has been placed in charge over the transfer proceedings, though Emery has the right to veto any move.
As per Ornstein, the north London giants are close to announcing their first signing of this summer’s transfer window with Papastathopoulous tipped to join for a reported fee of around £16m.
Right from Wenger’s last season in charge, the Gunners were ridiculed for their reluctance to strengthen the central defensive department and they are now in more of a compulsion to spend following Per Mertesacker’s retirement and Laurent Koscielny’s long-term injury.
Koscielny, 32, suffered a serious Achilles problem during the final month of the campaign against Atletico Madrid and this has supposedly ruled him out of action until December at the least.
Under ex-boss Wenger, the Gunners normally tended to recruit young defenders who can progress with the club in the long-run but they now appear to have made up a model which would help them return to Champions League football.
Papastathopoulous is certainly not the dream signing which the Gunners faithful will have hoped for but the Greek offers valuable experience and leadership skills which have often been questioned within the current squad.