Greek defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos had his contract terminated by Premier League side Arsenal, with mutual agreement, yesterday.
His current deal was set to expire in the summer but the Greek defender agreed to abort the club earlier than planned.
“One of the most enjoyable times in my career ended today. It has been an honour to wear the Arsenal shirt and I want to thank all the coaches, team-mates, staff and fans around the world for the love and respect they have given me,” Sokratis said on Twitter.
Turning 33-years-old this year, the former Greek national team captain will be looking for a club to join. Potentially the final destination of his senior career.
The former Arsenal man was linked with multiple clubs before the termination of his contract, including Greek giant Olympiakos and Turkish side Fenerbahçe, the new home of former Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil.
Here, we’ll look at the likelihood of each potential destination.
The powerhouse team of the Greek Super League. For Olympiakos manager Pedro Martins, the move is a great and obvious choice to bolster up the defensive line.
Football Insider revealed yesterday, before Sokratis’ departure announcement, that Olympiakos have presented a contract offer to Sokratis that he is currently weighing up.
If Sokratis is looking for a consistent 90-minute games, however, the defender should be steering far and clear from the Attica side.
The undefeated Greek side has only conceded 7 goals in the Super League season so far. Centre-backs Rúben Semedo, Ousseynou Ba and Pape Abou Cissé have all proven that they have earned their place in the squad this season, and it’s unlikely they’ll be happy with being replaced.
Semedo and Ba have both been linked to Premier League champions Liverpool FC, meaning a hole could be left to fill by Sokratis Papastathopoulos.
Unless Sokratis is given a first-team guarantee, a move like this is dangerous for an ageing player.
What I consider to be a beneficial long-term move for the former Arsenal defender, a move to AEK Athens is less-discussed, but highly valuable.
Currently second on the table, AEK Athens are in the market for a defensive leader that can provide security in the backline while team captain Petros Mantalos leads from the front.
Sokratis spent much of his youth career and early senior career at AEK Athens, building his reputation and earning a transfer to Serie A side Genoa. The Greek player has previously professed love for his debut senior club and despite never hinting at the opportunity, AEK Athens would be a perfect place to start his managerial staff career.
The problems facing AEK come down to whether Sokratis will be happy returning to his boyhood club, previously saying that his time with the Greek club has finished.
“Many AEK fans will be sad, but I am not thinking about coming back to Greece,” Sokratis said to Sport24.
Although, with Dmytro Chygrynskiy hitting 35 this year, it may be the golden opportunity for Sokratis to swoop in and claim his spot in the spine.
Despite Greek football fans being largely against a move to Turkey for the Greek defender, it seems like a great playing opportunity for the former Arsenal defender.
The home of former Arsenal legend Mesut Özil, a move to Fenerbahçe would see Sokratis reunite with his German teammate. According to Fanatik, Fenerbahce were already close to agreeing terms with Sokratis, but were waiting for his contract situation to be cleared up. Now that he’s a free agent, Turkey could become his new footballing home.
Fenerbahce are currently 2nd in the Super Lig table, trailing leaders Besiktas on goal difference.
All roads lead back to Rome, or in this case, to Genoa, with the Greek defender being linked to another one of his early senior career clubs.
Prior to his move to Arsenal, Sokratis was heavily linked with a move back to Italy.
Sokratis played 51 games for Serie A side Genoa after leaving AEK Athens in 2008. The Greek player became a fan favourite for many of the Italian locals, comparing him to former Genoa legend Gianluca Signorini.
A move to Genoa would be smart for his play time and familiarity with the league. Current Genoa manager Davide Ballardini joined the club as head coach shortly after Sokratis left in 2010. Familiar with the Greeks play style, the Luigi Ferraris could certainly become Sokratis’ new home.