Olympiacos aiming to create Greek core in Piraeus
Olympiacos are focusing on creating a solid Greek core within the team, as the Thrylos get down to business on shaping the roster ahead of an important 2018/2019 season.
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Following a thoroughly disappointing 2017/2018 campaign, in which Olympiacos came up short in the UEFA Champions League and finished in a lowly third place of the Super League, club owner Evangelos Marinakis and manager Pedro Martins are taking a new approach. Instead of filling the squad with plenty of supposedly stronger foreigners, the Thrylos have changed their focus to creating a Greek core by signing some of the country’s best players.
As previously reported on AGONAsport, Olympiacos sealed their first major transfer of the off-season on Tuesday, pinching pacy winger Lazaros Christodoulopoulos on a free move from newly crowned Greek champions AEK Athens. The 31-year old’s relationship with AEK turned sour after being put under serious pressure to sign a new deal, resulting in the midfielder joining the Kitrinomavri’s arch-rivals.
One of Olympiacos’ main targets in Greece is young AEL right-back Giannis Masouras, who impressed with Larssia during the season and is considered to be one of the most promising players in the Super League. Eager for an opportunity with one of the big-four, Masouras would jump at the chance to join Olympiacos, but the Piraeus outfit have encountered a stumbling block in negotiations. AEL want 1.5 million euros, 10% of Masouras’ next transfer and two young players in exchange for him, however Olympiacos are not willing to go to such lengths
19-year old goalkeeper Antonis Stergiakis, currently on the books of Slavia Sofia in Bulgaria, is wanted by Olympiacos. According to reports in the Greek media, Olympiacos and Slavia agreed upon a transfer fee of 800,000 euros for the stopper’s services, but Stergiakis is having major doubts. While he makes regular starts for Slavia, he would probably be Olympiacos’ number two, and he’s not keen on sitting on the bench at such a crucial period of his development. At this moment in time, it appears as though the transfer is off.
In more positive news for Olympiacos, goaltender Andreas Gianniotis is set to return to the Thrylos after a superb season with Super League high flyers Atromitos. When Gianniotis left Olympiacos for Peristeri last summer, a mutual agreement was made between the two clubs which allows Gianniotis to move back to Piraeus if Olympiacos wish for that to happen. This year, Gianniotis’ fantastic form was rewarded by a debut for the Greek national team in a 1:0 friendly win against Egypt and he also participated in the 0:2 defeat to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.
Greek loanees Manolis Siopis, Giorgos Manthatis, Spyros Risvanis and Konstantinos Tsimikas are all expected to be a part of the Olympiacos roster for next season after playing solidly with their respective clubs. OFI Crete forward Dimitris Manos, the Football League’s top scorer with an amazing 24 goals and 10 assists in just 24 appearances, is on the verge of becoming an Olympiacos player. Manos was simply unstoppable in firing OFI to promotion, but it remains to be seen whether he has what it takes to tear Super League defences apart.
Head coach Pedro Martins is hungry to shape his new Olympiacos team around Greeks Christodoulopoulos, Leonardo Koutris, Tsimikas, Risvanis, Siopis, Manthatis, Athanasios Androutsos, Marios Vrousai, Dimitris Manos, Dimitris Nikolaou and Lefteris Choutesiotis, while adding high quality foreign players to the mix. Midfielders Konstantinos Fortounis and Panagiotis Tachtsidis are also included in Martins plans’, but their future is still uncertain.