When Konstantinos Mavropanos arrived at the Emirates in 2018, many felt that the club had found a player with the potential to plug the holes in a notoriously brittle and nervy back four.
An excellent performance against Manchester United in the 2017/18 season made the signing look inspired, but there followed injuries and a sudden reversal in opinion from the coaching staff that Mavropanos might not be the answer they were looking for after all.
He seemed destined to be sold as part of Arsenal’s ‘buy a defender, sell a defender’ ritual after failing to hit the heights or achieve consistency. Just another defender that promised much but couldn’t deliver or cement his place in the first team like Krystian Bielik, who had to move to Derby County to ply his trade.
In the games in which Mavropanos did feature, he did an acceptable job but no more than that. He didn’t shine or stand out and he certainly didn’t look like he was going to be part of a lasting partnership or a impenetrable shield for the Arsenal defence.
He was destined to be sold or farmed out on loan and that’s exactly what happened. Konstantinos Mavropanos went to FC Nürnberg and the 22-year-old appears to be finding his feet with performances that are hinting of a return and a permanent residency in North London.
The youngster is showing dominance and good anticipation at present, which could be music to the ears of the Arsenal board who are looking at a hefty £60m bill to secure the services of a partner for William Saliba next season.
Konstantinos Mavropanos is tall (1.94m) and cuts a formidable figure in the centre of defence but at Arsenal he’d stood off on too many occasions, he’d failed to close down and had been slow to react to imminent danger. He’d also been guilty of straying too far out and was often caught napping in the area between midfield and defence, giving the opposition a free pass on goal.
His spell on loan will either make or break his Arsenal career when he returns. With the club looking for a definitive solution to its defensive problems, Mavropanos can not afford any further false starts or failures.
Mikel Arteta will be encouraged by his recent performances for his temporary club, which have earned him two man of the match awards and seen Nuremberg climb out the bottom two and into 12th. His general game appears to be improving with his aerial prowess evident and a restored appetite for tackles, but who knows if this will count for much on his return.
There’s no doubt his confidence will have been dented in his time at Arsenal with indifferent form and injuries, but he now needs to show evidence of why the gunners paid £1.89m.