PAOK endure a mixed bag of summer signings
Following a tough start to the 2017/2017 season, which including a shocking Europa League exit in the summer, PAOK Thessaloniki have warmed up nicely. Romanian head coach Razvan Lucescu has steadied the ship to good effect, steering PAOK to joint second in the Super League, just one point behind leaders Olympiacos. Some of PAOK’s summer signings have disappointed, while others have shown that they’re capable of powering the club to new achievements.
In terms of transfers, PAOK had a real mixed bag. The return of Robert Mak and Vieirinha hasn’t quite gone to plan, but new goalkeepers Rodrigo Rey and Alexandros Paschalakis have had a huge impact on the club’s upturn in fortunes. AGONAsport takes a look at all of PAOK’s players signed in the summer, analysing how they have settled into life in Thessaloniki.
THE INSTANT HITS
Rodrigo Rey: The 26-year old, who had previously spent the entirety of his career in his native Argentina, has impressed in Thessaloniki. A safe pair of hands, Rey rarely drops a clanger of an error and is a reliable shot stopper. Has recently lost his place in the team due to Alexandros Paschalakis putting in good performances, but he is definitely a player for the future. A clever bit of business by PAOK.
Alexandros Paschalakis: PAOK have only conceded seven goals in the Super League, the best defensive record in Greece. Unsurprisingly, their success is down to their rock solid goalkeepers. Paschalakis also signed in the summer, starting out as the back-up to Rodrigo Rey. Nevertheless, when being gifted a chance in recent matches, he showed what a talented netminder he is. Paschalakis kept a clean sheet in all three league appearances, helping PAOK beat Xanthi, Panathinaikos and Platanias. It will be interesting to see who continues in goal when the championship resumes in January.
THE QUESTION MARKS
Vieirinha: Due to an injury crisis, Lucescu decided to make the popular Vieirinha a left back. Lucescu is known to be a big fan of the Portuguese, citing his leadership qualities both on and off the pitch. There is a feeling that Vieirinha could have an even bigger influence on the team’s results.
Robert Mak: Another midfielder who returned in the summer. Things didn’t really work out for the 26-year old at Zenit Saint Petersburg, so the Russian club opted to send Mak out on loan to former club PAOK. While he has displayed his talent in fleeting moments, fans demand much more from the Slovakian international. His second stint at PAOK hasn’t taken off yet, but he is expected to improve in 2018.
Omar El Kaddouri: Boasting vast experience in Italy, attacking midfielder Omar El Kaddouri has the talent to become one of the Super League’s best players. It hasn’t gone quite to plan though, as he has struggled to play at a high level consistently. At times, El Kaddouri can appear a bit disinterested on the pitch. However, his passing is excellent, and it’s clear that he can still keep improving his game in Greece. One to watch in the new year.
Mauricio: Just like Robert Mak, the Brazilian signed from Zenit, only he joined as a free agent. Mauricio put in a memorable performance against Asteras Tripolis at the Toumba Stadium, scoring two wonderful goals from long distance. He is a competent midfielder, but can go missing in matches. Working his way back into the team after injury.
Dimitris Limnios: Young Greek forward Dimitris Limnios is a real PAOK prospect. Holding the ability to play either on the wing or up front, Limnios is a versatile player and gives Lucescu something extra. He’s only 18, meaning that we cannot get carried away. It’s worth pointing out that he hasn’t scored a goal yet, not hitting the net in nine Super League games.
THE REAL MISSES
Carlos Zambrano: It turned out to be a Greek tragedy for the Peruvian centre-back. He started the season in PAOK’s first team after being signed on loan from Rubin Kazan, but he committed a critical error during the defeat against Olympiacos. Taking into account that he comes with a heavy price tag, PAOK are eager to get rid of him in the winter transfer window.
Dorian Leveque: A second defender which had a nightmare with PAOK. He signed a three year deal in the summer, but he received a serious injury and Lucescu isn’t willing to show patience. As the saying goes, it’s not personal - it’s strictly business.