Scout report - Konstantinos Mavropanos: Arsenal's promising centre-back
Arsenal completed their first transfer of the new year by acquiring the services of Greek centre-back Konstantinos Mavropanos from Greek SuperLeague side PAS Giannina.
The 20-year-old, who cost the Gunners a fee in the region of £2.2m, was officially unveiled as an Arsenal player on Thursday and has signed a long-term deal with the north London side.
The youngster had been on the radar of chief scout Sven Mislintat during his tenure with Borussia Dortmund and it is believed that the German played a vital role in bringing one of the hottest young prospects to English shores.
In this segment, we take a look at Mavrapanos' career thus far as well as his strengths and weaknesses.
Born on November 11, 1997, Mavrapanos initially joined Greek side Apollon Smyrni and steadily progressed through the club's ranks, impressing one and all with his abilities on the pitch. However, his big opportunity arrived after joining PAS Giannina in 2016 - opening the doors for him to make a name for himself across the country.
The centre-back made his senior debut in November 2016 during their Greek Cup tie against Agrotikos Asteras, helping the side to a clean sheet in his first senior appearance. He has since gone from strength to strength, establishing himself as a young player to watch out for with his displays for Giannina.
Mavrapanos had featured in 16 matches this term before Arsenal came calling.
Playing style and Strengths
Though he has been utilised as a defensive midfielder within the Greece under-21 setup to good effect, he has been trained in central defence and prefers to play there too.
Standing at 6'4 tall and heavily built, the youngster has been a constant menace to opposition attackers with his aerial prowess and could potentially prove to be a very useful player in an environment such as the Premier League - which established its reputation as one of the world's most physically demanding.
However, that is not all to his game. He is fairly tidy with the ball at his feet and as displayed an ability to bring the ball out of his defensive half with ease. He does not fear going into 50-50 duels and is also unafraid to put his body on the line for his team-mates either.
While he's not the most technically gifted defender and can find it tough to handle players with quick feet, his tackling is regularly clean and he more than makes up for his lack of in-depth tactical knowledge with the right mix of power, pace and accurate tackling capabilities to make regular recoveries in the final third of the pitch. This undoubtedly makes him a vital asset to possess in one-on-one situations.
While there are no glaring weaknesses in his game, there are definitely areas of his game that need to improve before he asserts himself in a higher ability bracket. He needs to develop his distribution of the ball, as his tendencies to pick out the wrong passing option can prove frustrating to watch at times. Given the competitive and often ruthless nature of top-flight football in England, even the smallest of deficiencies can prove extremely dangerous to a player's tenure.
Also, it will be interesting to see how long it takes for him to acclimatise to the increase in intensity, which is simply much tougher than the Greek Super League.
He has less than 20 senior appearances to his name thus far and only time will tell as to whether he can fulfill his potential under such circumstances long-term.
Quotes on the player
Greece under-21 coach Antonis Nikopolodis is a self-confessed supporter of the defender and has already predicted him to have a bright future ahead. He believes that his switch has come at the correct time, too.
"He has a lot of potential. Young and very strong, his physicality is a big asset and essential for him to be successful in the Premier League. He's a player who is constantly developing and has made tremendous progress over the last few years. Apart from being very strong, he is also very effective in the air, relatively quick and a player writh great personality. He is work in progress and I am sure Arsenal will be able to develop him even more."
Arsene Wenger had already made it clear that he would be loaned out at some stage this month, to ensure he earns regular first-team minutes elsewhere.
If recent reports are to be believed, Bundesliga side Werder Bremen could be the club to sign him until the end of this campaign. This could potentially work out perfectly, provided they grant him enough opportunities to prove his first-team credentials - gaining experience before being thrown into the Premier League's deep waters.
For Mavropanos though, the aim will be to continue his growth as a defender so to warrant a place in the Arsenal side - one who does not shy away from giving deserved youngsters an opportunity centre-stage when the time is right.
Given the reputation of Sven Mislintat, Arsenal's head of scouting network, supporters will definitely be excited at the prospect of signing a talented youngster. Big money transfers always catch the eye but Wenger has developed a reputation for spotting and nurturing exciting talents into world-class players. If his performances in Greece are any indication, then Mavropanos is on the right track.