I don’t suppose that Sokratis Papastathopoulos is the favourite player of many Arsenal fans.
When the bean counters are working out which players’ names have been the most popular for shirt sales I doubt that the Greek Colossus features highly on the list.
And to be fair, if you wanted a shirt with his full surname on it you’d need shoulders as wide as Neil Ruddock’s arse.
But… (or should that be ‘butt’?)… I want to say a word or two in favour of Sokratis.
I am motivated by the news that he has been excluded from our Europa League squad (along with Mesut Ozil) and will also apparently be left out of our Premier League squad list, due on October 20th.
He’s a victim of problems we have meeting the criteria for home grown players etc, an issue aggravated by our inability to move players on during the transfer window (including him).
We were left with more central defenders than the sea wall at Brighton, making it inevitable that someone in that position would be left out.
Supposedly Sokratis came close to securing a move but it didn’t pan out and now he’s to be left in the cold.
It feels unfair on a player who always gave 100% every time he pulled on an Arsenal shirt. He may not have been a Tony Adams or a Sol Campbell, but he is a solid defender who did well for us at CB and also at RB when called upon.
At times during the last two seasons he seemed to be the only defender we had who was prepared to show a bit of muscle when needed.
There are two opportunities now for him to salvage his season:
1) The club ends his contract and lets him seek a role as a free agent. This is what West Ham have done for Jack Wilshire. In that case he could go to Europe or elsewhere as an out-of-contract player (I believe).
2) He gets a loan out to a club in the Championship or the Scottish Premier League. Both may feel like a step down, but a robust and experienced defender like Sokratis could make a huge contribution at a SPL club or a team vying for promotion from the Championship. Any of those teams whose start to the new season has been hampered by a leaky defence could do a lot worse than put a Sok in it.
No doubt we’d have to pay part of his wages, but without a move we’d he paying a hundred percent of them, so that’s a no brainier.
Whatever happens, I appreciate the committed performances Sokratis has given us and wish him nothing but success for the future.