Arsenal are closing in on the signing of Sokratis Papastathopoulos from Borussia Dortmund.
As first reported in Germany, the Gunners have been in talks with the Bundesliga giants over signing their second player from Dortmund in almost five months, after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang joined for a club record fee in the January transfer window.
Papastathopoulos, 29, is an experienced Greek international centre-back who shares the same agent as his compatriot Konstantinos Mavropanos, another player scouted and signed by Arsenal’s new head of recruitment Sven Mislintat at the turn of the year.
Mislintat maintains a close relationship with senior figures at Dortmund, where he spent over a decade as their chief scout, and played an influential part in Arsenal’s January signings of Mavropanos, Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan, the latter being another ex-Dortmund player who the German knows well.
The signing of Papastathopoulos would become Unai Emery’s first acquisition since becoming Arsenal head coach, although it’s understood that preliminary talks had already taken place between Mislintat and the Greek defender’s agent before Emery took the hot seat at Emirates Stadium.
The club’s new continental structure has also been labelled as 'North American' due to the influence of American majority shareholder Stan Kroenke and his son Josh Kroenke, and is headed up by chief executive Ivan Gazidis and supported by Mislintat alongside head of football relations Raul Sanllehi.
With Laurent Koscielny ruled out through injury until November at the earliest and Per Mertesacker retiring to take up a new role as head of the Arsenal academy, Mislintat is bolstering a Gunners defence which lacks experience and conceded 51 times in the Premier League during Arsene Wenger's final season in charge.
Talks are ongoing with Switzerland right-back Stephan Lichtsteiner who will prioritise a move to Arsenal despite interest from several other European sides including Dortmund. Sources close to the player have told Goal that they are confident of striking a deal, with the 34-year-old keen on moving to London when his contract with Juventus expires in the coming days.
Negotiations over a two-year contract are expected to continue throughout the week.
Lichtsteiner announced he would be leaving the Bianconeri in early May having helped the club to their seventh successive Serie A title, with the versatile right sided defender ending each season since joining the club from Lazio in 2011 as a national champion.
Monaco and Marseille have also shown an interest in signing him, but Arsenal are hopeful that they will be able to get the deal over the line. In total he scored 14 goals in 250 appearances for Juventus, despite falling down the pecking order in Turin last season.