Arsenal cancel Sokratis' contract as Real Betis target leaves Emirates Stadium on a free transfer

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Arsenal have confirmed that defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos has had his contract terminated by mutual consent.

Sokratis’ deal was due to expire at the end of the season, but the 32-year-old has been freed up during the January transfer window to find a new club.

The Greek centre-back had spent two-and-a-half years at the Emirates Stadium, but had not been included in Mikel Arteta’s squads for the Premier League and Europa League this season.

When was Sokratis’ last appearance for Arsenal?

The last competitive first-team game Sokratis appeared in for Arsenal was as a late substitute in the FA Cup final victory over Chelsea at Wembley in August at the end of last season.

But, having not been included in the 25-man squads for the Premier League or Europa League campaigns for the first half of the season, his sole outing in an Arsenal shirt in 2020-21 came in the Football League Trophy against AFC Wimbledon in December.

In total, Sokratis made 69 appearances for the Gunners after joining the club from Borussia Dortmund in a £14 million transfer in the summer of 2018.

Who will Sokratis join next?

Goal reported earlier in January that Real Betis are interested in a deal and that Sokratis would be keen on a move to La Liga.

However, it is understood that Betis will need to sell players first as they are struggling under the Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules enforced by La Liga and need to reduce their wage budget before they can make any major signings.

Betis are looking at ways to offload either Sidnei or William Carvalho to free up the funds for Sokratis, who had been earning £5m a year at Arsenal.

Sokratis would also be open to returning to Germany or playing in Italy, with Napoli having shown an interest in taking him to Serie A during the last summer transfer window.

The bigger picture

Sokratis' departure from Arsenal is likely to soon be followed by Mesut Ozil, who is in Istanbul to finalise a move to Turkish giants Fenerbahce.

Like Sokratis, Ozil had not been included in Arsenal's squad this season and manager Mikel Arteta has been looking to free up room in his squad for January loan additions.

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What's been said?

Arsenal technical director Edu told the club's official website: “On behalf of Mikel, our coaches, players and everyone at the club, I would like to thank Papa for his contribution to the club. 

"He has been an important part of our group and has been a model professional throughout. The negotiations to end his contract have been collaborative and we wish Papa and his family well for the future.”

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