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Arsenal’s worst mistake since Gnabry? Mavropanos loan army star has $ 4 million exit clause


Konstantinos Mavropanos has been Stuttgart’s best player this season, starting all 9 Bundesliga games and scoring 3 goals. Currently on loan from Arsenal FC, the German club can sign the Greek center-back next summer for just $ 4million, a fraction of his true value.

It also wouldn’t be the first time Arsenal have lost top international talent to a Bundesliga midfield team. In 2016, the Gunners sold Serge Gnabry to Werder Bremen for $ 5.8 million. Today, the Germany international is a Bayern Munich holder valued at $ 81million, according to Transfermarkt, the global football transfer database. It seems like history is repeating itself now.

To add insult to injury (financial), the man who lured Mavropanos from Arsenal to Stuttgart last year and negotiated the ridiculously low $ 4million exit clause with the London club is none other than Sven Mislintat. Do you remember him, Premier League fans? The ‘Diamond Eye’, as he’s known in his native Germany, was Arsenal’s chief scout from late 2017 to early 2019.

Sven Mislintat signed Konstantinos Mavropanos twice

It was Mislintat who brought then 19-year-old Mavropanos to north London in 2018 and helped him settle down. A link has been woven that the young Greek defender has never forgotten. “Sven is a great sporting director, he sees all players alike and he protects us all with his expertise,” Mavropanos told me. “His great human nature and positive aura are truly unique. He’s always upbeat and he radiates that.”

Frankly, when it comes to Mavropanos, Mislintat has much to be optimistic about.

At the start of the second half of Stuttgart’s home game against Hoffenheim on Matchday 7 of this season, Mavropanos stole the ball from his opponent on the right side of the pitch, around 50 yards from Hoffenheim’s goal. The center-back then dribbled down the right flank, knocking out two opponents, before cutting inside when he reached the final third. He knocked out two more defenders, then squeezed the ball into the far corner of Hoffenheim’s goal with his weaker left foot. It was a strong moment worthy of the name scene who showed the tackle, ball control, handling, pace and shooting technique of the loaned Arsenal player.

Arsenal Loanee outperform Bayern Munich defenders

With more than a quarter of the season played, Mavropanos is the most striking defender in the Bundesliga (3 goals in 9 matches). He was also the 13th fastest player in the league and 2nd fastest center-back. With a top speed of 35.08 km / h (21.8 mph), he’s faster than any Bayern Munich or Borussia Dortmund center-back. Even more unusual, the 23-year-old brings that pace to his imposing 196-pound, 6-foot-4 frame: measurements similar to those of Virgil Van Dijk of Liverpool and Antonio Rüdiger of Chelsea, two of the best center-backs in the country. world today. (Incidentally, the latter also made his professional breakthrough in Stuttgart.)

One journalist who follows the development of Mavropanos from the training ground and the stadium press box on a weekly basis is Alexander Bonengel, Sky TV’s Bundesliga correspondent for the south-eastern clubs Frankfurt, Mainz and Stuttgart. Bonengel sang me the praises of the defender: “If he can continue to play regularly at this level, he is already one of the best defenders in the Bundesliga. What makes him so special is the power combination offensive and defensive. ”

The German journalist said the 23-year-old’s career was cut short by a series of lingering injuries during his time in London and while on loan in 2020 at German second-division club Nuremberg. Bonengel also added that despite all its strengths, Mavropanos can still develop its technical skills. But overall, Bonengel said, Mavropanos is “humble, mentally strong, a good teammate and very professional. The type of player a club would be lucky to have.”

Is Ben White worth 17 times more than Mavropanos?

Arsenal fans may never know if they would be lucky to have Mavropanos. The Greek international has only made 7 Premier League appearances, 3 under Arsene Wenger and 4 under Unai Emery. This summer, Arsenal moved Mavropanos to Stuttgart for a second loan season, setting him free for a paltry sum of $ 867,000. At the same time, the Gunners have spent $ 68million to buy Ben White, an England center-back, from Brighton. In 2022, Stuttgart can buy Mavropanos for the $ 4 million clause fee negotiated by Mislintat.

In layman’s terms of football economics, Arsenal’s budget decisions imply that one Ben White is worth 17 Konstantinos Mavropanos. Coming from a club that laid off 55 employees (7.5% of all staff) at the start of the pandemic and pressured its players to accept pay cuts, this is a tantalizing expense.

The North-Londoners, owned by American sports mogul Stan Kroenke, have placed 8th in the past two seasons and have not played in the Champions League for more than four years. Nonetheless, Arsenal now have the fifth most generous salary structure in the Premier League, according to 2021-2022 season data obtained by Spotrac, an American sports finance company.

Agent praises Stuttgart’s American coach Matarazzo

Konstantinos Farras, Mavropanos’ agent, was evasive when I asked him about the player’s future. He said football is an “everyday affair” where things can change quickly. Farras added that his client enjoys life in Stuttgart and has many friends on the team. “They have a coach who just gets the players and the players understand that,” he said of US Stuttgart head coach Pellegrino Matarazzo.

And the player himself, what does he want? “What I mean is that in Stuttgart I feel like I was born here,” Mavropanos told me. I also asked the 23-year-old about his relationship with Arsenal today. I wanted to know, is there a contact person at the club who watches him, watches his matches and gives him his opinion? Mavropanos’ response was short. “There is nobody.”

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