Kostas Manolas is reportedly considered a potential replacement for Belgian international Thomas Vermaelen who signed this week for Barcelona in a deal thought to be worth around £15 million.
The 23-year-old made 7 appearances last term in the Champions League for the Greek outfit to Vermaelen’s one last term and 14 in the Premier League.
On average the Greek, five years Vermaelen’s junior, averaged more than twice the number of tackles of his Belgian counterpart, 2.4 per game to the Belgian's one per game average.
Manolas averaged more interceptions, 1.9 per game to Vermaelen’s 1.4 per game, almost twice as many clearances, 10 per game to Vermaelen’s 5.6 per game, equalled the Belgian’s average offsides won and, defensively, only fell behind Vermaelen on his discipline, with 1.1 fouls being awarded against him to Vermaelen’s 0.4 per game.
Of course, one could argue the superior technical quality across the team for Arsenal compared to Olympiakos could have resulted in the Greek side being required to defend more often, which would certainly skew the data. It also demonstrates however that Manolas is, if and when required, capable of putting in commanding defensive performances at a top level, given that his data is taken from his performances in the Champions League and Vermaelen’s is taken from the Premier League.
In terms of technical ability, Vermaelen achieved an exceptionally high 90.8% pass completion rate in the Premier League last term compared to Manolas’ 78.8% in the Champions League but, in his two appearances in the Champions League for Arsenal, Vermaelen’s rate dropped significantly to 80% which is only very marginally higher than Manolas’.
The obvious obstacles for Manolas in replicating that level of consistency with Arsenal would be the requirement for him to adapt to the demands of the Premier League which, at times, can be more relentless and intense physically than the Champions League but, given his relative youth, one could expect he would have time on his side to make that transition.
Overall, Kostas Manolas would represent a very astute signing for the future for Arsenal and, in the meantime, a near-adequate replacement of Vermaelen to cover Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny.