AEK sign 7 new aspirations
by Greg Gavalas
AGONAsport's Greg Gavalas talks about AEK's seven signings this offseason.
It's that time of the year again, the offseason where every team looks to make the needed signings for the coming season in the search of glory and goals.
AEK's preseason in terms of signings has been very productive. The club has brought in 7 new players nice and early meaning all 7 players will be part of the preseason in Poland. In the past, AEK has brought in new players but not before the preseason so this is a big plus as it gives the guys a good chance to meet each other (old and new), get to know each other and their game whilst creating a relationship with one another.
Before we look at them, AEK did release 3 notable players from their ranks and I have mixed feelings about these.
Firstly, Christos Aravidis, the fan favorite had a lot of heart but the reality was AEK need a bit more skill and technique. Where Aravidis signs with next is still unknown.
The two released players I am not so happy with include defender Dimitris Kolovetsios and striker Tomas Pekhart. Now had AEK brought in established players that were a step up on these guys, I don’t mind, but I don’t think AEK has actually bought any better talent for these guys positions and I think stability plays a big part in success.
Kolovetsios was a safe and good center back for AEK, as a result he has signed with Panathinaikos. Pekhart was AEK's top scorer with 12 goals last season... It looks like Sergio Araujo will not be coming back to AEK anytime soon also, so to be minus the two club’s top scorers from last season means the new signings MUST perform.
So, who are the new players?
Helder Lopes: Helder (28 years old) is a Left Back that comes from Spanish club Las Palmas. He has been brought in as a replacement for Didac Vila although weather or not Didac will be at AEK next season is still unknown as the move to Espanyol is not yet confirmed.
Lopes is AEK's 10th Portuguese player in the clubs' history and played 15 games for Las Palmas last season. However, has spent most of his career with Portuguese club Pacos de Ferreira (2013-2016).
Viktor Klonaridis: Klonardis returns to AEK after 5 years. Born in Belgium, Viktor started his youth career with AEK before graduating to the senior team from 2010 to 2012 and was then bought by French club Lille for 2012/13 season Klonaridis has since spent most of his time between France and Greece but has mainly played for Panathinaikos.
He is a speedy winger and can play second striker too. He gets himself in many good positions and if he can improve his finishing (he is only 24) he can make a real difference He has been signed for only €200,000 and adds much depth to the AEK roster.
Panagiotis Tsintotas: AEK bolstered their goalkeeper ranks by signing Tsintotas. The 24-year-old will no doubt be the number 3 goalkeeper in the ranks behind Giannis Anestis and Vasilios Barkas however hard work and no mistakes could change that. Tsintotas comes from Levadiakos, he played 18 games for Levadiakos last season and was impressive for most of that time something the current AEK keepers can't say about last season.
Giorgos Giakoumakis: Giakoumakis is one of the more promising Greek talents going around right now and as a forward that puts him in a short glass of talent out there.
At just 22 years of age, the Cretan comes to AEK from Platanias where he scored 11 goals last season and was 5th overall in the top scorer's standings. It was without doubt a breakout season for him and the move to AEK means he has a once in a lifetime opportunity to make something very special of himself at both club and national level.
It's no secret AEK have really struggled in the forward and striker position since been promoted to the Super League. Can Giakoumakis be a long-term answer remains to be seen.
Marko Livaja: Livaja comes to AEK from... you guested it! Las Palmas! In an ironic twist, the Spanish club has said they want to hold AEK's hero from last season, striker Araujo and as fate would have it AEK have signed the 23-year-old Croatian striker on loan.
There has been much debate and mixed feelings on the signing of Livaja. Initially signed by Inter Milan in 2011 and had loan spells in Switzerland and Italy as a result of that. In January 2013, the Croat was loaned out to Atlanta, he played 31 games and scored 4 goals, and the season was also marred by a couple of disciplinary issues which saw Livaja spend time away from the pitch as a result.
From 2014 to 2016 Livaja played at Rubin Kazan (Russia) and Empoli with 29 appearances and 1 goal to show for it. The good news is his last season with Las Palmas was his best to date with 25 appearances and 5 goals.
I think this is a wild card, his stats are nothing to write home about and there are some disciplinary issues that worry me. I actually think the Greek fans will get under his skin if he does not convert appearances to goals. On the plus he is only 23 and will want to establish himself soon enough rather than going from club to club each season.
Uros Cosic: Cosic is 24-year-old Serbian defender who comes in as a replacement for Kolovetsios. AEK have reached an agreement with Italian club Empoli for €500,000. He is young but the 24-year-old has seen plenty of first team football since 2011 in Italy with Pescara and Empoli.
Cosic has signed with AEK for 3+1 years and will no doubt be part of the rotating 4 center backs at AEK through the season. I am looking forward to seeing what he has to offer.
Arnor Traustason: Traustason is another 24-year-old to join AEK this season, on loan from Austrian club SK Rapid Wien, he is a fast midfielder who can play centrally or on the wing.
He is possibly the most promising signing of all 7. HBe is a regular international for Iceland and can score goals. He scored the winning goal at the 2016 European Championships against Austria in Iceland's 2-1 win, sending them to the Last 16, and also scored in Iceland's 3-2 win over Greece in Piraeus back in March 2016 (friendly). In 2013 Trautason was voted The Most Promising Player in Iceland's Premier League.
Whilst on loan, AEK will have an option to buy the dynamic midfielder for €1 million at the end of the season. If Giakoumakis and Livaja don't work out, don’t be surprised if you see Traustason playing higher up the field.