Konstantinos Mavropanos has joined German 2nd tier outfit FC Nurnberg until the end of the season.
It is a big move for the Greek youngster who at 22-years-old is no longer really a youngster.
Mavropanos “burst” onto the scene 3 seasons ago with a couple of good performances against Manchester United and Burnley. He was sent off in his 3rd game against Leicester City.
Big things were expected for him during the 2018/19 season, but he was hampered by injury and did no play a game until February. Another groin injury has seen him ruled out for most of this season.
Playing just 6 games in a season and a half, the loan deal is huge for Mavropanos’s future.
The first thing he needs to do in Germany is prove his fitness.
You can have all the talent in the world, but if you are not physically reliable you might as well retire. He will need to stay injury free during his time and put together a run of games.
After proving his fitness, he will then have to move on to proving he is actually a good player.
Most people have judged Mavropanos on a Man of the Match performance in a loss to Manchester United, but that is a single game nearly 3 seasons ago. Not enough for us to judge him in the long term.
A big problem for Mavropanos is that Arsenal have a lot of central defenders ahead of him.
If we ignore Shkodran Mustafi who looks set to leave for Galatasaray in January, Mavropanos still finds 4 team mates ahead of him – David Luiz, Sokratis, Rob Holding and Calum Chambers.
Due to his lack of game time over the last 2 seasons, it is impossible to make a case that he should be starting ahead of any of them; although I am sure some will try.
Next summer Arsenal will surely go big for a 1st choice centre back (Dayot Upamecano? Andreas Christensen?) and also have French teenager William Saliba set to join. That will leave the club with 7 centre backs – at most you only need 5.
So Mavropanos will need to put in some huge performances whilst on loan in Germany to be one of those 5.
It also raises a wider discussion as to “who will be Arsenal’s 5 centre backs in 2020/21” as we will need to shed 2.
Both Sokratis and David Luiz have re-found their form under Mikel Arteta. Sokratis will be 32-years-old at the end of the season, Luiz will be 33. The pair will both have 1 year left on their contract.
Neither has a long term future at Arsenal, but a case is easily made for at least one of them to remain at the club for another year, passing on their experience to the younger guys. Luiz is probably more suited to this role than Sokratis, especially if Arsenal sign Christensen from Chelsea.
Arsenal might also decide that it might be better to cash in on either Rob holding or Calum Chambers.
The two Englishmen are no longer “young Englishman” and both have suffered a string of injuries recently. Despite this both would still go for a decent enough transfer fee.
Chambers has been linked away every summer for the last 2 or 3 years. He seemed to have finally nailed a spot in the 1st team before his most recent injury. There is still a case to be made for his versatility – covering right back and central midfield alongside being a centre back.
The club would probably be reluctant to sell someone with his versatility. He could easily play a role of 3rd choice right back, 5th choice centre back and 5th choice central midfielder. But then a bid of £20million could be a lot to turn down.
A decision will also have to be made on Rob Holding.
He has not fully recovered from a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament injury he suffered in December 2018 and has seen his playing time restricted to just a handful of cup games.
By now many would have hoped he would have established himself as 1st choice at Arsenal and we would be talking about Holding +1, but the horrendous injury has stalled his career.
Holding’s Arsenal career is now at a cross roads. Will he be able to get fit, get the game time and kick on to be 1st choice? Will his career now be hampered by injury like so many who have had a long term absence? Do we still think our defence should be “Holding +1”?
The feeling is the answer to all of the above is “who knows”, which is why it is important that next season Arsenal keep hold of either Luiz or Sokratis for one more season.
They way I see it is:
Arsenal sign a new 1st choice central defender
Who is partnered by whichever senior centre back we keep (Luiz or Sokratis)
And competing with Rob Holding
William Saliba is 4th choice, getting cup games
Calum Chambers 5th choice, also covering right back and midfield
Sokratis or Luiz will be moved on and it will also lead to the end of Mavropanos’s stay at Arsenal.