Last year, Sven Mislintat was appointed as head of recruitment at Arsenal with the club looking to change a structure at the Emirates that saw Arsene Wenger oversee practically all activities to do with the squad.
Mislintat had gained quite the reputation at Borussia Dortmund for being able to spot talent having been the one credited for bringing the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Shinji Kagawa and Ousmane Dembele all to the Bundesliga.
As a result, Arsenal supporters were expecting big things from the first signing made under Mislintat back in January, central defender Konstantinos Mavropanos.
Mavropanos arrived at the Emirates in the new year from Greek side PAS Giannina as a name fans of the north London club were unaware of.
Nevertheless, Mislintat’s decision to bring Mavropanos to England was one that they backed and, while it is still too early to say whether the 20-year-old has been a successful buy, the signs so far are looking promising.
Despite the game ending in a 2-1 defeat, Mavropanos impressed on his Arsenal debut against Manchester United at Old Trafford back in April with many coming to sing his praises afterwards including club legend Ian Wright.
“He was Sven Mislintat’s first signing and was someone he didn’t know too much about,” Wright said on Match of the Day 2 (via Football.London) when giving his analysis of the match.
“But I haven’t seen a performance like this, the anticipation, the pace, the awareness, from Arsenal for a long time. For a 20-year-old to come in and be as cool and as calm as he was is so impressive.
“I don’t think we’ve got anything to lose by playing him. He hasn’t done too badly against Lukaku.”
Ultimately, Mavropanos’ display that day was evidence that he does have the potential to play at this level and has much to offer Arsenal.
At 6’4″, £2.7m-rated (via Transfermarkt) Mavropanos is aerially dominant and a very capable defender in 1v1s. Going forward, he could be the ideal upgrade on Shkodran Mustafi, who has shown a tonne of defensive deficiencies during his time at the Emirates.
When it comes to distribution, however, the Greece U21 international’s game there could do with some work. But at his age, it is something that can easily get better over time.
During the summer, Arsenal brought in Sokratis Papastathopoulos to boost Unai Emery’s options at the back. But the next time the club want reinforcements in that area of the pitch, then they must look no further than Mavropanos.