Tuesday 19 June 2018

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Arsenal agree deal to sign defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos for £16m from Borussia Dortmund

Sokratis Papastathopoulos of Borussia Dortmund has been heavily linked with Arsenal. (Nick Potts/PA)
Sokratis Papastathopoulos of Borussia Dortmund has been heavily linked with Arsenal. (Nick Potts/PA)

Jeremy Wilson

Arsenal have reached an agreement on a £16 million deal to make Sokratis Papastathopoulos their second summer signing under new manager Unai Emery, but his arrival from Borussia Dortmund will not be officially announced until next month.

After already bringing in Stephan Lichsteiner from Juventus earlier this week on a free transfer, Sokratis is the second experienced defender that Emery will add to a squad that has lost Per Mertesacker and which will be without Laurent Koscielny at the start of next season.

Sokratis, who is 29 and had one year left on his contract in Germany, has made 79 appearances for Greece and had played for Dortmund since joining from Werder Bremen in 2013. He previously played in Italy with Genoa and AC Milan and is likely to go straight into Emery's starting team. After Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, he will also be the third player who worked previously with Arsenal's new head of recruitment, Sven Mislintat, at Dortmund.

Aged 34, Lichsteiner will also add experience to Arsenal's back line and, with Champions League qualification the big target next season, the signings do seem to represent a continuation of the January transfer policy which committed considerable wages to proven players who will have only limited sell-on value.

Sokratis is expected to agree a three-year deal.

Arsenal do still want to blend the squad with emerging young talents and, while discussions are still at an early stage, they are interested in 17-year-old Paris St Germain midfielder Yacine Adli. He has been capped in various international age groups by France and was given his senior debut at PSG by Emery, where he has not signed a professional contract.

Midfield is another transfer priority for Arsenal but the strategy in this area will be largely framed by contract talks with Aaron Ramsey.

Emery is hoping to commit a significant part of what is a limited budget this summer to making the Wales midfielder one of the pillars of his new team.

Arsenal have already offered Ramsey a significant pay-rise on his current deal of just over £100,000 a week but, in the current market, he could realistically expect a contract approaching £200,000 a week.

The calculation for Arsenal is whether they could hope to find a comparable quality replacement and the signs are so far positive that Ramsey will agree an improved extension on a deal that expires next summer.

Jack Wilshere is also still deciding whether or not to stay and, with Granit Xhaka, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Mohamed Elneny as his other main midfield options, Emery is looking at adding some extra physical presence.

Arsenal are aware of Marouane Fellaini’s availability but he is not currently a priority.

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