Bright future for PAOK with Akpom and Jaba leading the way
The future remains bright at PAOK as youngsters Chuba Akpom and Leo Jaba are having career best campaigns in their first season in Thessaloniki. AGONAsport takes a closer look at the talented forwards’ partnership.
English striker, Akpom, was born in London and grew up progressing through the youth ranks in the Arsenal academy. Former Gunners manager, Arsene Wenger, was a big fan of Akpom and saw the talent he possessed, however Akpom struggled to adapt to playing senior football at the London giants. Having not discovered his full potential at a number of other clubs, the 23-year old has now taken the opportunity at PAOK ahead of Nikos Karelis to lead the line for the Thessalonikis following an excellent run of form. His confidence is expected to only grow as he gets more time on the pitch after the departure of Aleksander Prijovic.
On the other hand, Leo Jaba was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil and represented his country throughout all youth levels. He made a bold decision to leave home as a 19-year old and move abroad to Russia where he played for one season at Akhmat Grozny. PAOK saw the talent Jaba possessed early on in his development and proceeded to purchase the exciting speedster at the beginning of the season, a movie which has worked wonders for both Jaba and PAOK.
Furthermore, the talented pair are best of friends outside of the pitch. Although Jaba struggles to speak English, Akpom has stated that they have a bond that goes beyond just football, and have found their own way of communicating with one another.
The explosive attacking duo have had an increase in responsibility following the shock departure of star striker Aleksandar Prijovic in the January transfer window. However, they have had no problem working together on the pitch and have led PAOK to key victories in the league campaign. Last weekend in PAOK’s 4:0 triumph over OFI at home, Akpom scored a double with both goals assisted by Jaba while the Brazilian winger also found himself on the scoresheet as he was assisted by Akpom for PAOK’s third goal of the match. The duo’s off the field relationship has carried onto the pitch, with both Akpom and Jaba having breakout seasons and have now cemented themselves as regulars in Razvan Lucescu’s starting lineup for the second half of the season.
Along with other exciting talented youngster such as Dimitris Limnios and new signing Karol Swiderski, PAOK are now forming a young and formidable attacking line-up which could see the club continue to have sustained success in the years to come.