That contest pitted a promising centre-half into direct competition with Romelu Lukaku, and the 24-year-old claims he has not faced a more formidable attacking foe since.
Mavropanos is spending a second season on loan at Stuttgart
Konstantinos Mavropanos admits he was left “a bit rattled” when learning that Arsenal wanted to sign him in the January transfer window of 2018, with the Greek defender going on to be handed a baptism of fire on his Premier League debut away at Manchester United. That contest pitted a promising centre-half into direct competition with Romelu Lukaku, and the 24-year-old claims he has not faced a more formidable attacking foe since. A steep learning curve currently has Mavropanos spending a second season on loan at Bundesliga side Stuttgart, with questions about his long-term future at Emirates Stadium. Still, a confident character is delighted at having fulfilled a professional dream. Mavropanos has told reporters of being snapped up by Arsenal from PAS Giannia in his homeland: “Oh man, that was a crazy day. I remember it very well.”
An adventure for Konstantinos
“I had a perfect six months in Greece for my club PAS Ioannina, and on New Year’s Eve, I got the call that Arsenal wanted to sign me. On 31 December, I got the call, and on 1 January, I was already on my way to London to sign my contract. I was so nervous during those days. Suddenly such a big club like Arsenal wants you; I was a bit rattled.” A man with eight appearances for the Gunners to his name added on his experiences in England: “It was an adventure for me. It was my first time away from my home country of Greece and then at such a big club in a cosmopolitan city like London. It was a big difference. Suddenly you’re sitting in the dressing room next to stars like Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who you only knew from television before.”
The player never forgets his debut for Arsenal
“When Sokratis came to Arsenal for the new season, it was worth its weight in gold for me. He was a mentor for me and helped me a lot off the pitch, but also in terms of reading the game from the defence, for example.” Mavropanos was eased into the Arsenal fold with outings for the club’s U23 side but was suddenly thrown in at the deep end when asked to face Manchester United at Old Trafford in April 2018. The Gunners suffered a 2-1 defeat that day, but the occasion will always hold fond memories for a man making his English top-flight bow. “I’ll never forget my debut,” Mavropanos said. “It was at Old Trafford against Man United, and I was up against Romelu Lukaku. To this day, I haven’t had to play against a better striker.”
“We played Bayern and Dortmund in the Bundesliga with VfB, but I never had the personal matchup with Robert Lewandowski or Erling Haaland. That’s why I have to say that Lukaku has been my toughest opponent so far. His physique is imposing, and he’s so good technically that he’s really very difficult to stop.” Arsenal tied Mavropanos to a new contract when sanctioning the first of his loan moves to Stuttgart in the summer of 2020. Still, his current club are reportedly keen on pushing a permanent transfer through if they can avoid slipping through a relegation trapdoor in the Bundesliga.