Arsenal have cancelled the contract of Sokratis Papastathopoulos, their out-of-favour defender, leaving him free to find a new club.
The writing had been on the wall for the Greece international’s career in north London ever since Mikel Arteta cut him, along with Mesut Özil, from Arsenal’s 25-man Premier League and Europa League squads in the autumn. He has not played first-team football since a brief substitute appearance in last season’s FA Cup final and all parties had long recognised it was time to move on.
The Arsenal technical director, Edu, thanked Papastathopoulos for his service in the two and a half years since he joined from Borussia Dortmund, during which he made 69 appearances. “He has been an important part of our group and has been a model professional throughout,” Edu said. “The negotiations to end his contract have been collaborative and we wish Papa and his family well for the future.”
It is the latest step in an overdue clearing of the decks at Arsenal, following the high-profile settlement of Özil’s contract. Özil’s move to Fenerbahce is due to be confirmed this week. Papastathopoulos has also been linked with a transfer to Turkey, as well as clubs in Italy and Spain.
While Arsenal are relieved of a considerable financial burden in shedding the two players, they will have to be creative in enlisting any new signings in this transfer window. Any major outlay must almost certainly wait until the summer, when Arteta will hope to enhance his attacking options. Their interest in Emiliano Buendía, of Norwich, is understood to remain and may gather speed in the coming weeks. He is one of several options, though, which include a move for the highly-rated Shakhtar Donetsk winger Manor Solomon.