Retsos makes the headlines after superb maiden year in Germany
It’s been an incredible few years for Panagiotis Retsos, who has risen from an Olympiacos prospect to one of the most wanted young defenders in Europe. AGONAsport investigates further.
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Still only 19 years of age, Retsos initially made headlines with Olympiacos when breaking into the first team in 2016, standing out with his admirable calmness and confidence at the back. Since making his senior debut for the Thrylos in a UEFA Europa League match against Arouca in August 2016, the defender displayed his unique talent with impressive performances, winning the trust of Olympiacos’ coaches and gifted more opportunities at the highest level. Unfortunately for Olympiacos fans, so-called bigger European clubs soon created a large queue for Retsos, as Bayer Leverkusen eventually snapped the centre-back up for 17.5 million euros. When pinched by Leverkusen, the Johannesburg-born defender shared his emotions from the move, revealing that he felt it was the right time to leave Olympiacos: “It was my dream to compete with Olympiacos in the UEFA Champions League, but I felt I had to make a sacrifice. I came to the conclusion that it was God’s wish that I moved. Now, I can say it was the right decision. Young players have to compete without the fear of making errors, because mistakes make us stronger.”
To be honest, many doubted if Retsos would receive enough chances with the main Leverkusen team to prove his worth, but the Greek enjoyed a solid first campaign abroad, making 24 Bundesliga appearances and even scoring the maiden professional goal of his career. Despite holding the title of a teenager, he’s earned the full trust of Leverkusen head coach Heiko Herrlich, boasting the ability to play either on the left or in the centre of defence.
The Bundesliga is regarded as one of the world’s top leagues, but Retsos has taken to life in the fast lane like a duck to water, catching the attention with his dynamic play. In defence, the Greek reads the game impeccably, keeps the opposing strikers out of the match with intelligent marking, understands how much time and space he has with the ball and rarely loses focus. He’s a danger at the other end too, contributing with three Bundesliga assists alongside the single goal.
Naturally, taking into account Retsos’ visible potential, Europe’s big guns are beginning to bang on Leverkusen’s door. According to reports emerging from the media, Barcelona and Arsenal seem to be expressing real interest in the defender’s services, making transfer enquiries with Leverkusen’s management.
Nevertheless, in order to prise Retsos away from Leverkusen, clubs have to offer at least 40 million to tempt the Germans into selling their future star. Arsenal, a club which are often stingy with their money, have Retsos high on their priority list, but will the Londoners be willing hand Leverkusen such an amount? Arsenal signed Konstantinos Mavropanos from PAS Giannina in the winter and are on the verge of clinching Borussia Dortmund stopper Sokratis Papastathopoulos. Barcelona would surely have no problem in paying up, but at this stage of his career, Retsos has to be playing instead of keeping the bench warm.
Whatever happens, the sky’s the limit for Retsos. Famed for producing quality defenders, Greece have struck gold once again, uncovering a new gem at the back. Leverkusen will certainly have a tough battle on their hands to somehow keep the Greek in the Bundesliga.