AGONA Profile: Ghayas Zahid, the Norwegian mastermind in Donis' hands
In connection with Ghayas Zahid recently joining Panathinaikos, AGONA Profile takes a closer look at his career so far.
Back in the summer of 2017, Giorgos Donis returned to APOEL and led the club into the UEFA Champions League group stages. On the last day of that transfer period, the Cypriot champions signed an ‘unknown’ player, but one with a good reputation, Ghayas Zahid.
He enjoyed two great seasons in Cyprus and will now look to make his mark in Greece with Panathinaikos on a one-year loan deal from APOEL.
Born in Oslo with Pakistani descent, Zahid made his name known with Valerenga and the Norwegian U21 squad, before moving to Europe’s southeast corner and Cyprus. Zahid was signed to help improve APOEL’s attacking and creative game and Donis mostly played Zahid as an attacking midfielder, behind the striker, or as a left winger. Despite a slow start, he moved on to have a great season scoring 10 goals and serving 14 assists in the 2017/18 campaign. He played five full games in the Champions League group stages while helping the Nicosia giants to another Cypriot championship.
Last season, he did not reach the standards of his first year in Cyprus, though, he scored three times and gave eight assists, helping APOEL reach their seventh consecutive title. This summer it was clear that he was not in Paolo Tramezzani’s plans and grabbing a chance with Panathinaikos looked the right move for his career.
Zahid managed to improve his transfer value from 1.1 million euros to two million euros in his two years in Cyprus. APOEL will be keep an eye on his progress in Athens hoping that his price tag increases during his stint at the Trifylli.
Zahid is a very technical player. He is capable of creating efforts in close quarters balancing speed and dribble, something that was proved useful against tight defenses in the Cypriot league. He does not possess the speed to play on his own on just one flank, but he does have the ability to play on the left wing and close in to use his lethal right foot.
The Norwegian has excellent passing and crossing skills and can pose a big threat on set plays. He is surely one of the most creative and mindful players that ever came through Cyprus. His flaws include his ability to defend and as a result, was never able to play well as a central midfielder. His defending statistics are lacking compared to his offensive stats.
Expectations at Panathinaikos
Donis and Dabizas definitely added an important attacking tool in their 2019/2020 squad, one that can take Panathinaikos’ creative game to the next level. Zahid’s skillset as well as his willingness to play and prove himself after an up and down season, will surely give him the drive to succeed with the 20-time Greek champions.