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The Greek defender has impressed for the Gunners and we shouldn’t really be surprised

He’s proving everyone wrong.

Admit it, you raised an eyebrow when a 30-year-old Sokratis rocked up at the Emirates.

The Greek defender was shown the door by Borussia Dortmund for a cut-price fee, leading everyone to believe there must be a catch.


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Getty – Contributor

A prospect that didn’t exactly fill you with confidence

Once a reputable centre-back in European football, there were murmurs of declining performances and a startling lack of pace.

The amount everyone harped on about his bloody pace made you think Unai Emery had signed a like-for-like replacement for Per Mertesacker.

In reality, it has all been very different.

Crunching Theo Walcott. One way to endear yourself to the fans

Getty – Contributor

Crunching Theo Walcott. One way to endear yourself to the fans

Sokratis has done nothing but impress so far this season.

His performances have Arsenal fans ranking him as one of their standout players of the campaign and he’s a clear favourite of Emery too.

The 30-year-old has been a mainstay in the Gunners defence alongside Shkodran Mustafi, even making his flawed team-mate look fairly decent.

Teachers pet

Reuters

Teachers pet

So, why are we surprised at how quickly the veteran has taken to life in the Premier League?

For years he played at the highest level with Dortmund, excelling on the biggest stage in the Champions League.

He’s been fortunate to work under some of football’s most well-regarded coaches, including Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel.

He’s learnt from the very best.

Find someone who looks at you the way Klopp looks at Sokratis

Find someone who looks at you the way Klopp looks at Sokratis

There is however another education Sokratis received that was perhaps the most important of the lot.

During his time with AC Milan in Serie A, a league best-known for it’s emphasis on defensive solidarity, the centre-back had two of the best teachers.

When he was just 22-years-old, Sokratis played alongside Milan and Italy stalwarts Paolo Maldini and Alessandro Nesta.

Wayne Rooney never stood a chance

Wayne Rooney never stood a chance

With a combined 204 caps for Italy and over 1200 appearances for Milan between the pair, when they talk, you listen. Simple as.

Sokratis’ exposure to the veteran pair would have been invaluable in his early development.

The tricks of the trade he picked up during his two-years in Serie A will still be relevant to this day in the Premier League with Arsenal.

Lesson one: Stop Edinson Cavani by any means possible

Lesson one: Stop Edinson Cavani by any means possible

The 30-year-old has spoken fondly of his former team-mates and discussed just how important his spell at Milan was to his education.

“Maldini was a special defender. I like defenders who were first defenders.

“I was lucky to also play with Nesta and Thaigo Silva.

“Milan was one big school for me, I really learnt a lot.”

Sandwiching strikers

Sandwiching strikers

Emery’s new recruit spent one season alongside Maldini before the great man hung up his boots.

He did however feature alongside Nesta at the heart of Milan’s defence for a further season, before departing for Werder Bremen in 2012.

With Nesta approaching the twilight zone of his career, Sokratis was paired alongside Brazilian defender Silva for much of his final campaign.

Again, not a bad mentor to have…

One of Europe’s best centre-backs and Giorgio Chiellini

One of Europe’s best centre-backs and Giorgio Chiellini

Sokratis is very much a throwback defender. That’s been made perfectly clear at the Emirates this season.

He’s one who takes pride in clean-sheets and extols the virtues of old-fashioned defending

Amongst the ball-playing system Emery has got him working in, he’ll occasionally revert to type and go long.

No points for guessing where he picked up those habits…

These Instagram quote captions are getting worse and worse

These Instagram quote captions are getting worse and worse

Arsenal fans are longing for the return to first-team action of Laurent Koscielny.

Although the Frenchman doesn’t compare to the Italian stalwarts who Sokratis once played alongside, he’s certainly a more than fitting partner.

‘Sokielny’ incoming.

Make it happen, Emery

Make it happen, Emery

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