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Arsenal defender ready for life at ‘big three’ club

Gunners players return for pre-season training as £16million new boy tells how he’s ‘obsessed with defending’

05 July, 2018 — By Steve Barnett

New Arsenal defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos. Photo: Werner100359

NEW head coach Unai Emery took charge of his first training session on Tuesday as Arsenal players started their preparations for the coming season.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Alexandre Lacazette, Aaron Ramsey and Henrikh Mkhitaryan were among the Gunners stars being put through their paces at London Colney. Defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos was also in Hertfordshire after completing his £16million move from Borussia Dortmund to “one of the three biggest teams in the Premier League”.

After being reunited with former Dortmund team-mates Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan, Papastathopoulos said: “I spoke to them a lot times. They said to me the best things about this club, that it is one big family and, of course, they also called me, not every day but a lot of times, telling me to come here.

“It’s very beautiful that I have two players who I was together with for a lot of years. I know them both very well and I’m very happy.

“Arsenal is one of the three biggest teams in the Premier League and one very big club. It has a lot of fans and a very big history.”

Asked about remarks made by his former manager at Dortmund, Thomas Tuchel, who said Papastathopoulos is “a little bit obsessed with defending” and “wants to protect the goalline no matter what”, Arsenal’s new number five said, “Yes, of course. Of course I agree. I think that a defender first has to defend, to protect the goal, and then after, if he can help in front a little bit for the game, then it’s good. But, first of all, he has to defend. I like that my team doesn’t concede goals.”

Mesut Ozil will officially wear the No 10 shirt for the Gunners next season following Jack Wilshere’s departure.

The Germany international, who has worn the No 11 shirt since joining in 2013, said: “It has never been a secret how special this number is to me. My childhood idol, Zinedine Zidane, wore this number and it is still the most characteristic one for the playmaker position. I’m looking forward to putting it on for the first time at Arsenal after the summer break!”

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