A year to remember for PAOK’s Aleksandar Prijovic
It really has been a successful 2017 for PAOK goal hunter Aleksandar Prijovic. The 27-year old, in his first full season with the Thessaloniki club, emerged as PAOK’s main threat going forward and helped the Serbian national team qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Prijovic’s PAOK journey began in January 2017, when the club were scanning the transfer market for a striker who would bring firepower. PAOK decided to purchase Serbian Aleksandar Prijovic from Legia Warsaw, a team which allowed Prijovic to play (and score) in the UEFA Champions League. Prijovic became an instant hit with PAOK’s passionate supporters, going on to score seven goals in fifteen 2016/2017 Super League matches. Taking into account all competitions, Prijovic has scored an impressive 20 goals in 38 PAOK appearances, averaging over a goal per two matches.
National team hero
His decent scoring record in Greece earned Prijovic a call-up to the Serbian national team for the 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign. Nevertheless, Prijovic had to receive permission from FIFA before holding the right to play with the Serbs. Having been born in Switzerland, the tall striker played for junior Swiss national teams, but he was eventually given the green light to represent Serbia. Head coach Slavoljub Muslin handed Prijovic his debut in a huge match against Wales, as the forward provided an assist for Serbia’s equalising goal. Just to cap things off, Prijovic scored the winner in the crucial victory against Georgia in Belgrade, the triumph which sent Serbia to the Russian World Cup. A fairy-tale story.
Problems on the road
In Greece, Prijovic has continued to lead the line for PAOK. Standing at over 6ft tall, Prijovic is a perfect target man in the penalty box, while possessing the technical ability to control the ball at feet and unleash a deadly shot. No wonder he is nicknamed “The Killer” at the Toumba Stadium. However, Prijovic does have things to improve. In the Super League, Prijovic very rarely finds the net away from Thessaloniki. A perfect example is the road match against AEK Athens in November, where Prijovic missed a glorious chance in the final minute to salvage a point.
PAOK’s only option
Still, despite his shaky away performances, PAOK rely heavily on Prijovic. Looking at PAOK’s squad, Prijovic is the only forward which promises plenty of goals. Yes, 21-year old Efthimis Koulouris has shown signs of potential, but he isn’t experienced enough to be consistent.
Prijovic’s brilliant form for both club and country has attracted interest from foreign teams. Rumours are circling that Prijovic is in demand, but it’s doubtful that PAOK would be willing to sell, especially given the difficulty of finding a worthy replacement. PAOK fans are hoping that Prijovic can continue firing on all cylinders as the Greek title race heats up.