Winter transfers: A Super League summary
Following the completion of the winter transfer window, AGONAsport rounds up how each Super League club strengthened and weakened ahead of the 2017/2018 season’s deciding phase.
As usual, it was Greece’s largest four clubs hitting the headlines. One of the biggest moves saw Olympiacos take popular Belgian forward Kevin Mirallas on loan from Everton, handing the 30-year old his second stint with the reigning Greek champions. AEK Athens pinched left-back Niklas Hult from struggling Panathinaikos, while the stuttering Greens lost a number of key players such as Rodrigo Moledo and Lucas Villafanez. PAOK added to their powerful squad, notably making a move for Shakhtar Donetsk’s Marcio Azevedo.
It turned out to be a strange winter window for PAOK. The Thessaloniki club were eager on signing Rodrigo Moledo and Dimitris Kourbelis from Panathinaikos, but neither deal went through. Nevertheless, they signed talented Brazilian defender Marcio Azevedo on loan until the end of the current campaign. On deadline day, PAOK grabbed attacking midfielder Thibault Moulin and young Bosnian defender Marko Mihojevic.
Predictably, Gojko Cimirot transferred to Standard Liege.
Spaniard Manolo Jimenez was eager to acquire replacements for injured pair Petros Mantalos and Jakob Johansson. AEK fulfilled his request, purchasing ex Panionios man Masoud Shojaei and defensive midfielder Erik Moran. Also, the Enosis took Swede Niklas Hult from stricken Panathinaikos.
Patito Rodriguez, Vinicius and Arnor Ingvi Traustason, players which were not in Jimenez’s plans, departed Greece for new adventures. Somehow, despite a major scandal, AEK managed to hold on to key Bosnian Ognjen Vranjes. At one point, it seemed certain that the defender would join Anderlecht.
As already mentioned, the return of Kevin Mirallas was a cause for celebration in Piraeus, with jubilant fans greeting the Belgian with ecstasy at Athens International Airport. Ehsan Hajsafi, an Iranian left-back, joined from capital rivals Panionios. Other signings included promising Croatian goalkeeper Ivica Ivusic and Brazilian defender Igor Silva. However, Olympiacos’ main goal in the winter window was to shift dead wood.
Emmanuel Emenike, a summer move which simply did not work out, was gladly moved out to Las Palmas on loan. Sasa Zdjecar, Mehdi Carcela-Gonzalez, El Fardou Ben, Jagos Vukovic and Hrvoje Milic all left Piraeus, as Olympiacos successfully got rid of players not in new coach Oscar Garcia’s ideas.
Pushing for an unlikely title bid, Atromitos Athens made a couple of tweaks to their squad in the winter. Brazilian forward Bruno Felipe De Souza, who previously played for LASK Linz in Austria, signed a loan deal with Atromitos. Left-back Joan Oriol cancelled his Atromitos contract, meaning that the club snapped up Emanuel Sakic as a replacement. Incidentally, Oriol never made a Super League appearance for the capital club. Promising 20-year old forward Konstantinos Kotsopoulos arrived from Naousa.
Hungry to achieve European qualification, Xanthi’s only real transfer activity of note was signing midfielder Petar Durickovic from Serbian giants Partizan Belgrade. The attack minded player will be expected to add more flair to a Xanthi team which has a pretty low budget. Might struggle to stay in fifth place as the season approaches its climax.
Desperately fighting for a place in the top five, plenty of changes occured in Nea Smyrni. Masoud Shojaei, Ehsan Hajsafi and Evangelos Oikonomou all departed Panionios for bigger Greek clubs, leaving the team in a potentially dangerous situation.
In order to strengthen the attacking line, Panionios brought in Mergim Brahimi and Nicki Bille Nielsen. At the moment, the club sit in sixth position of the Super League table, level on points with fifth placed Xanthi.
After a slow start to the 2017/2018 season, Asteras are now aiming to finish in the first five positions of the table. Moroccan forward Nabil Jaadi made the trip to Tripoli from Italy’s Udinese on loan, and Asteras even have the option of buying him on a permanent deal when the current campaign ends. The most important loss might be young Brazilian defender Igor Silva to Olympiacos.
Sitting in a comfortable eighth place, the Levadia based team appear almost certain to remain in the Super League for another year. Levadiakos managed to add more depth to their roster, picking up defender Jordao Diogo, Burkina Faso midfielder Souleymane Sawadogo and attacker Marko Markovski. The latter has been signed as a replacement for experienced Brazilian Brandao.
In the midst of a terrible financial crisis, Panathinaikos were forced into parting ways with important members of their squad. The goal was to raise five million euros, but only 1.2 million was brought in after captain Dimitris Kourbelis opted to stay with the Greens. Lucas Villafanez, Niklas Hult, Bryan Cabezas, Giorgos Koutroubis, Oscar Hiljemark, Nuno Reis and Yacouba Sylla all left the Greek capital. Rodrigo Moledo was about to join PAOK on loan, but in the end, he moved back to his native Brazil with Internacional.
Head coach Marinos Ouzounidis was reported to be on the brink of resigning, but Panathinaikos did manage to sign Giannis Mystakidis and Ergys Kace on loan from PAOK. Foreigners Anthony Mounier, Mattias Johansson and Robin Lod also stayed at the Apostolos Nikolaidis Stadium for the time being.
PAS Giannina very rarely grab the headlines, but the sale of talented defender Konstantinos Mavropanos to English club Arsenal made the news around Europe. On the other hand, PAS found it difficult to attract players to Ioannina. Left-back Mite Cikarski was the only one to join PAS, having previously played for Ethnikos Achna in Cyprus.
The Larissa outfit were busy in January, moving in for three Serbians and one Bulgarian. In particular, Hristofor Hubchev transferred to AEL to replace the outgoing Owusu-Ansah Kontor on the left side of defence. Aleksandar Gojkovic and 36-year old Evangelos Moras jumped on board the AEL ship to become the team’s new central defensive pairing. AEL’s aim is to finish between fifth and tenth place in the Super League table.
Brazilian winger Willyan, Panetolikos’ main target for the winter transfer period, did indeed put pen to paper on a deal. Only aged 23, he will be given the responsibility of providing more trickery on the flanks for Panetolikos. The club’s key losses saw Diego Lopes, Evangelos Moras and Marko Markovski depart.
PAS Lamia 1964
In their first ever season at Greece’s top level, PAS Lamia 1964 are determined to avoid the drop back into the Football League. They’ve done a solid job so far, occupying 13th place in the table six points away from the relegation zone. Lamia have only scored fourteen goals in 20 games, so they decided to sign forwards Yevhen Budnik and Nikola Asceric to bolster their attack. Ukrainian defender Vitaliy Pryndeta, signing from Platanias, will try to shore up their reasonably reliable back line.
Another club battling for survival, Apollon Smyrnis were seriously busy in January on the transfer market. Greeks Giorgos Zisopoulos, Stavros Tsoukalas and Giannis Stathis all joined Apollon, along with foreign players Didac Devesa (Spain), Fonsi (Spain) and Enver Alivodic (Serbia). In a thrilling relegation showdown, Apollon are one point ahead of AOK Kerkyra in fourteenth place. Their fans are hoping that the winter signings can inject new life into a team with real potential.
Kerkyra did a decent job of making up for players which left Corfu. Serbian left-back Nikola Lekovic covered the departure of Diogo Jordao and Aristidis Soiledis, and Daniel Adejo replaces the injured Mathieu Gomes. AOK have to improve their poor form if they are to retain their place in the Super League.
Cut adrift in last place of the Super League table, Platanias look destined to be relegated. Still, the gap to safety is only five points, although they have won only two of twenty matches this season. In a last gasp attempt to stay in the championship, the club signed lots of new players in January. 32-year old ex Panathinaikos forward Antonis Petropoulos, maybe Platanias’ most high profile signing of the window, scored against Apollon Smyrnis on Monday to secure an important point.