AGONA Profile: Francisco Geraldes, AEK’s new creative force
This summer, AEK bolstered their squad by signing two Portuguese midfielders, with the second being Francisco Geraldes on loan from Sporting Lisbon. The AGONA Profile analyses his career to date.
With the arrival of new Portuguese head coach Miguel Cardoso, the amount of players from Portugal on the AEK roster has risen, with the Kitrinomavri recently opting to loan Francisco Geraldes from Sporting Lisbon for the 2019/2020 season. AEK do not have a purchase option for the talented 24-year-old.
PREVIOUS SUCCESS WITH MIGUEL CARDOSO
Born and bred in Lisbon, Geraldes joined Sporting as a young boy, subsequently progressing through the club’s youth ranks. However, despite now being 24 years of age, Geraldes has only made a handful of senior appearances for the Portuguese giants.
Geraldes and AEK manager Cardoso are no strangers. In the 2017/2018 season, Geraldes played on loan at Rio Ave when Cardoso held the post of the team’s head coach, performing excellently with three goals and seven assists in the Liga NOS. It was that particular campaign which persuaded Cardoso to sign him at AEK.
EARLY START WITH SPORTING RESERVES
Geraldes experienced his first taste of professional football in the 2012/2013 season. In that year, the flexible attacking midfielder played in two games for Sporting B in the second division, before he became a regular for the team two years later.
Initially, Geraldes was kept on the bench for the start of the 2014/2015 campaign, but he was later given a chance with the Sporting reserves and ended the season with four goals and seven assists.
Eventually, after several seasons with the Sporting B team, Geraldes was loaned to Moreirense for the first half of the 2016/2017 Liga NOS season.
FIRST TASTE OF PORTUGUESE PRIMEIRA LIGA ACTION
Geraldes made the perfect start to life in the top tier of Portuguese football. On matchday one of the championship, he made an assist in a 1:1 draw at Pacos de Ferreira, before scoring a goal and dishing out another assist in a 3:0 victory against Feirense a week later. Incidentally, current Olympiacos winger Daniel Podence was also on loan at Moreirense from Sporting at the time.
Impressed by their productive showings with Moreirense, Sporting recalled both Geraldes and Podence in January of 2017, but the former was mainly kept as an unused substitute for the remainder of the season.
Sporting decided to offload Geraldes as a loanee to Rio Ave for the 2017/2018 season.
POSITIVE RIO AVE STINT, INJURY PROBLEMS IN 2018/2019 SEASON
Cardoso gave Geraldes the ideal platform on which to display his ability. Something which AEK fans will be hoping repeats itself in Athens.
Largely playing in a central role, Geraldes was hugely effective for Rio Ave, becoming a key figure for the club. Rio Ave earned fifth place of the standings to grab a UEFA Europa League qualifying berth.
In the summer of 2018, Geraldes was loaned to Eintracht Frankfurt, but injury prevented him from playing in any matches for the German club. He returned to Sporting in January and racked up a grand total of 17 minutes on the pitch in three games.
Blessed with strong technical ability, the former Portuguese youth international is a great passer of the ball, able to spread it around the pitch with accurate passes. Geraldes will be relied upon to be the most creative player in this AEK team, and if we look back to the 2018/2019 season, the Kitrinomavri desperately lacked creativity. He will compete with Petros Mantalos for a place in the starting line-up.