Building the core
AGONAsport’s Olympiacos contributor, Theo Bouras, talks about the correct path Olympiacos is taking this offseason by building on the team’s core from last season.
Any team that wants to consistently have success needs to have a solid core group of players. If you look at the 1996-2003 Olympiacos dynasty, names like Predrag Djordjevic, Stelios Giannakopoulos, Andreas Niniadis, Alekos Alexandris, Grigoris Georgatos, and a few others were a part of a special group. Those players didn’t only synch on the field but rather grew up together and gelled in the locker room.
A lot of the negative feedback that fans have sent towards the Erythrolefki administration recently has been the constant rotation of players every season. Team owner Evangelos Marinakis has done a formidable job finding diamonds in the rough and selling them to keep the club financially responsible, but this has led to the Legend losing its identity.
Unlike summers prior, the focus this year has been on keeping the core of the team together. The team already made a big step towards maintaining their core when they signed team captain and Greek international, Kostas Fortounis, to a massive four-year contract. Fortounis had options to go play in a more prestigious league in Europe, but his love and dedication for Olympiacos is what ultimately kept him in Greece.
Fortounis re-joined Olympiacos in the summer of 2014 and since then, has shown signs of brilliance. It wasn’t all roses, however, as his 2016-17 and 2017-18 campaigns were forgettable. This past season, Fortounis once again found his stride and was the maestro in Pedro Martins’s game plan. By signing Fortounis to the biggest contract ever given to a Greek player in the Super League, Marinakis showed he means business. The shipping tycoon is able to keep or purchase whoever he wants.
Not Since the Viking…
Ruben Semedo might be the first true center-back the Erythrolefki have had since the departure of Olof Mellberg in the summer of 2012. The 25-year old’s trouble with the law has been well documented. Still, at such a young age and with his potential, Semedo might be the summer’s best signing. He is intense, strong and is able to move the ball (something that neither Jagos Vukovic nor Pape Abou Cisse) were very good at this past season. For those of you who are turned off by Semedo’s past issues, just know that this is a player who would never be considering playing in Greece under normal circumstances. If Semedo really has put those issues behind him, we’re in for a real treat.
Spending the Big Bucks
It’s the summer transfer season and wouldn’t you know it, Olympiacos are out-spending every other Greek team in the transfer window. So far, Greek teams have combined a total of 10 million euros for player transfer fees. Out of that amount, Olympiacos have spent eight million. That’s not to mention contracts (like those given out to Fortounis). You can make your own conclusions, folks.
In order to return to the top of Greek football, Olympiacos will need to continue piecing together a consistent roster for the next few years. This summer, they have signed their star attacking midfielder, a much-needed center-back and their goalkeeper for the next dynasty. The team is still looking to add a quality striker and another midfielder. The best is yet to come…