Mavropanos Joins Well-Known Arsenal List
Last week rising youngster Konstantinos Mavropanos completed a dream move to EPL giants Arsenal from PAS Giannena. The 20 year old ace will no doubt find it difficult to immediately break into the first team which is why manager Arsene Wenger has hinted at a loan move to Werder Bremen.
Nevertheless, it represents Mavropanos a great opportunity to announce himself on a global stage. The heart of defence has rarely been a strong point at Arsenal, many times their easy on the eye football has come undone by poor defensive errors. In addition to this, Wenger himself has a history of of signing young, promising talents. This clearly bodes well. Not all of these moves come off but over the years the Frenchman has unearthed many quality players.
To put this all into context, Mavropanos was not born when Wenger took over as Arsenal manager. Mavropanos, whose surname translates to “black cloth” in English, joins a long, ever-growing list assembled by Wenger himself. Gunners fans will be hoping he one day breaks down attacking plays like tearing a cloth.
This is the list the Athens-born centre back joins:
The Ivory Coast international was 20 years old when signed by Wenger, ironically the same age as Mavropanos. He arrived as more of a defensive midfielder and right back but the French tactician was able to observe his best attributes which prompted a positional change to centre back. The move paid dividends as Toure played in the Arsenal “Invincibles” side that did not lose a single league game. The Ivorian also learnt a lot off his defensive partner, Sol Campbell. Two years later, he played in a UEFA Champions League final. Such was his rapid rise to fame under Wenger’s tutelage. He was part of a record breaking defence that kept 10 straight clean sheets in the European competition en-route to the final. He was sold to Manchester City in 2009 for almost 20 million Euro. Not a bad investment from the small figure of under half a million Euro originally forked out in 2002.
On the bench that night of the UEFA Champions League final, where Toure partnered Campbell in the centre of defence, was Swiss international Senderos. Signed by Wenger in 2003, he turned out to be a valuable servant to the club and was vital in the rotation of the squad. He pushed Toure and Pascal Cygan all the way in a bid to partner Campbell at the back. He eventually fell out of favour with Wenger and had 2 loan moves away from the club before being allowed to join Fulham on a free transfer in 2010. The monster centre back has gone on to enjoy a long career playing for Fulham and Aston Villa most notably after his exit. He is still playing for the Houston Dynamo in the MLS.
The Cameroonian international was another “diamond” signed from Bastia in 2005 for a small fee. He came as a centre back, but as Wenger does so often, transformed him into a defensive midfielder after seeing his qualities of strong tackling and endless running. His breakthrough season at the Emirates came 3 years after signing, illustrating that patience is key in the case of Mavropanos. He was the perfect partner in central midfield for the more attack-minded Cesc Fabregas and then Aaron Ramsey. In the 2011-12 season he came second in a vote by the fans for the Player of the Season award. He was then sold to Barcelona for a fee of 19 million Euro. Another example of the shrewd transfer business under Wenger’s watch when you consider the original fee paid.
The Englishman joined Arsenal in 1997 but found it hard to break into the first team with Tony Adams, Martin Keown and Steve Bould ahead of him in the pecking order, coupled with injuries of his own. He managed to claim a Premier League winners’ medal in the 2001-02 season, even though his career never fully took off at the club. He made a few loan moves before signing permanently for Birmingham City. He went on to play for other notable Premier League clubs such as West Ham United and Stoke City. He also represented England on 21 occasions.
Chambers, who graduated from Southampton’s academy system, was signed by the Gunners in 2014 after appealing to Wenger, following a host of impressive performances at Premier League level for his boyhood club. The 20 million Euro arrival has not hit the heights himself or the club would have wanted so far but the 22 year old has time on his side. He has made 3 appearances for England to date.
Recruited at a similar age and stage in his career when compared with Mavropanos at the start of last season, the former Bolton defender cost 3 million Euro but has failed to fully gain the trust of Wenger so far to become a regular. Got more of a taste of Premier League football towards the end of last season. Also scored in a UEFA Europa League game against BATE Borisov this season.
A name sure to be known to most Greek football fans, the centre half was signed also signed in January like Mavropanos, from Iraklis in 2001 for a fee in the region of 900,000 Euro. It never really worked out for the three time Greek international, as he only made a poor 8 appearances for the club (only one of those was in the league with the rest coming in cup competitions). Wenger was a fan of his aggressive style of play but unfortunately he could not dislodge Campbell and Toure and spent time on loan at Portsmouth. He returned to Greece in the latter years of his career where he played for several Super League and Football League clubs.
Wenger likes snaring young players from the famed academy of Barcelona such as Fabregas and Hector Bellerin, however, his pursuit of Ignasi Miquel turned out to be a failure. Now 25 years old and barely featuring for Malaga, the defender joined the Gunners as a 16 year old and did not see much action in the Premier League.
The Swiss international spent a decade at the North London club but failed to cover himself in glory, making many defensive errors along the way. His playing time became more limited after the signing of Per Mertesacker and he left for Hannover on loan, then Hamburg.
The Polish centre back/defensive midfielder is a few weeks younger than Mavropanos. He was signed from Legia Warsaw in early 2015 for a similar fee of that to Mavropanos too. Injuries have curtailed his progress so far but he does have time on his side. He has only played in the League Cup so far and spent time on loan at Birmingham City last season, however, a change in managers resulted in him receiving less playing time.