Leicester City and Arsenal were both busy in the transfer market during the summer window as they brought in a handful of new players to bolster their squad’s ahead of the new season.
With Unai Emery’s appointment at the Emirates Stadium it was almost inevitable that a handful of talented players would arrive in an attempt to implement his footballing philosophy, but there is a suggestion that Arsenal’s head of recruitment may have missed an ideal opportunity to sign a fantastic centre-back on the cheap.
Arsenal welcomed Sokratis Papastathopoulos to the club from Borussia Dortmund in a bid to solve their defensive problems, but his arrival has not quite installed the desired solidity just yet.
Sven Mislintat’s connection with Dortmund has already been felt in north London with the arrival of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and his decision to move for another Dortmund player in Sokratis hinted at a possible long-term relationship between the two clubs.
But whilst Mislintat was busy recommending Sokratis to the Arsenal board, Leicester were snapping up a £3.5 million bargain deal for Jonny Evans – one which Arsenal would have been wise to complete themselves.
Here’s how the two players compare…
Evens is a quintessential example of how the art of defending triumphs over physical qualities such as strength, speed or height.
Take Man City’s Eliaquim Mangala for example: he is quick off the ground, strong as an ox and 6ft 1in tall, but he has been shown up for the sub-standard defender he is in the Premier League due to his lack of footballing intelligence and technically ability.
Evans is not the quickest or the strongest defender, but his natural understanding of the game is second to none and he will undoubtedly become a key player with the Foxes this season.
The 30-year-old defender has only started 1 fixture for Leicester thus far amid competition from captain Wes Morgan and the excellent Harry Maguire, but as the season progresses there is no doubt he will prove to be an absolute steal at just £3.5 million.
TT Grade: A
Unai Emery has thrown the Greek centre-back straight into the heart of his back-four and started him in all four of Arsenal’s opening fixtures.
On an individual level, he has started in reasonably promising form with his no-nonsense approach and confidence in playing out from the back.
However, Arsenal have conceded a whopping total of 8 goals from their opening 4 fixtures so there’s certainly plenty of room for improvement right the way across the back-four.
The early signs are promising for Sokratis as he adapts to his new surroundings in the Premier League, but with no previous experience in English football it could take him at least one season to discover his best form.
TT Grade: A-
Considering both Evans and Sokratis are central defenders and 30-years-old, they are perfect to compare alongside each other.
At just £3.5 million Evans was a bargain simply waiting to be had and his huge level of experience in the Premier League would have been a valuable asset for Emery to have at his disposal.
Both defenders are very consistent with their performances and intelligent readers of the game, but Evans wins this battle due to his bargain price tag and extensive history in the top-flight.
Arsenal and Leicester fans – thoughts? Let us know below!