The summer transfer window is nearing its official opening, and in their usual style, Premier League giants are almost at loggerheads with one another over prospective signings.
Manchester United, Chelsea, and Arsenal have Dortmund’s defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos at the top of their wishlist for their busy transfer festivities, and it is set to be a tough tug of war between this trio.
Who is this centre-back anyway?
The 29-year-old Greek international kick-started his career in Greece at AEK Athens in 2005, spending 3 seasons there before moving to Italy to link up with Genoa – where his defensive abilities caught the eyes of Milan.
Having impressed with the Serie A minnows over the course of 2 seasons, Sokratis completed a move to the San Siro in the summer of 2010. However, he returned to Genoa the next summer after failing to break into Milan’s first team. Genoa then loaned him out to Werder Bremen.
It was with the Bundesliga side that Sokratis established himself as a defensive force to be reckoned with, making 59 league appearances over the course of the 2011–12 and 2012–13 season.
The 2007–08 Greek Young Player of the Year has spent the last 4 seasons at the Westfalenstadion, playing a century of Bundesliga games in the black and yellow stripes of Borussia Dortmund, and winning 2 DFL-Supercups and a DFB-Pokal.
Style of Play/Strengths and Weaknesses
Sokratis comes in the perfect mould of a Premier League prototype defender, which isn’t a surprise given he’s wanted by 3 of its giants.
Standing at an inch over 6 ft, the Greek international, who has earned 73 caps so far, is an old school defender; not hesitant to launch tackles over tackles, committing tons of professional and unprofessional fouls in the process. He’s a decent dribbler of the ball for a rough tackling defender, which means that he’s able to carry the ball out of the back whenever necessary.
His passing is also a standout area of his game that makes him an excellent all-round defensive stalwart. The Greek recorded an average of 88% pass accuracy over the course of the Bundesliga campaign this past season and 89% the season before, proving that he’s become better with age, having recorded just 79% and 81% pass accuracy in his first 2 seasons with the club.
While his foul-committing spree should be a concern, he has been sent off just once in 4 Bundesliga seasons and hasn’t exceeded more than 7 yellow cards per campaign.
With his height, winning aerial duels come in handy while he is often a goal threat at the other end during set pieces.
As far as weaknesses go, Sokratis has none recognizable at the moment of filing this report, and he hardly puts out the wrong foot due to his consistent level of quality performances week-in, week-out.
At 29, Sokratis is without a doubt coming to the end of his peak but he is also a solid short-term option that looks capable of putting in flawless performances for the next 3 to 4 seasons.
And with a sizable amount of European football under his belt, his experience on all fronts will be useful should any of the Premier League giants interested land him to shore up their defensive department.