Don’t poke the bear
AGONAsport’s Olympiacos contributor, Theo Bouras, talks about the exciting off-season ahead for a title hungry Olympiacos after the signings of French veteran Mathieu Valbuena and Jose Sa.
Sometimes, you have to know when to keep quiet and let the bear hibernate. It’s no secret that two seasons without silverware in Piraeus can seem like an eternity. That fact alone has the Olympiacos administration urgently trying to piece together a championship roster for next season. To add insult to injury, Ivan Savvidis and his loud-mouthed son, Giorgios, has constantly mocked the team from Piraeus through various news outlets and social media.
This has clearly angered team owner Evangelos Marinakis who seems to be on a mission this off-season. Mathieu Valbuena, a legendary figure in French football, was the first big signing of the summer after penning a deal with the Piraeus-based club on Monday. Valbuena brings a wealth of experience and talent having played the bulk of his career at Marseille for eight seasons. He was a main fixture for Fenerbahce the past two seasons. The one concern with the left winger is his age. Much like Yaya Toure last year, Valbuena will be 35-years-old for the 2019-20 season. Unlike Toure, however, Valbuena is coming off a season where he played in 31 competitive games. His smaller frame should also facilitate his aging.
In addition to Valbuena, Olympiacos have stabilized their goalkeeping situation with the official transfer of Jose Sa. The Portuguese keeper was a rock for the team this year, stabilizing the position after a rough start by Andreas Gianniotis.
An Early Presence
It’s not common for Greek teams to make splashes early in the summer. Officially, the “Summer Transfer Window” opens on July 1st and historically, Olympiacos have been slow to get the wheels going. Call it patience, call it being unorganized, call it negotiating; the team has usually made their biggest signings in early July to mid-August. This season, however, there has been a sense of urgency from the Erythrolefki.
With the Champions League qualifiers set for the week of July 24th, Pedro Martins has started putting together a roster for the upcoming season. It’s the time of the year where transfer rumors can drive you borderline insane; new names are thrown out in the media every single day. Nonetheless, the general consensus is that Martins wants his team to be ready as quickly as possible.
New names like Marcus Berg, Ruben Semedo, Martin Skrtel, and others are constantly linked with the Legend but when it comes to Greek teams transfers, “seeing is believing.”
In Need of Stability
Olympiacos’ last Greek league crown was in 2017. Since then, AEK won the Super League in 2018 and PAOK lifted the hardware this past season. Regardless of all that, Olympiacos seem to be the team that is showing the most stability this off-season. While their rivals are losing important players, dealing with key player injuries, and playing the manager carousel, Marinakis and company are trying to keep the same nucleus from this past season while adding some key Starting XI players.
Aside from irrefutable offers for Kostas Fortounis, Pape Abou Cisse or any other key assets, the team is looking to build a core that will build the new Piraeus dynasty. Savvidis and company are about to find out why they should savour their first title in 35 years. Bears wake up from their sleep, angry and ready to go. They’re a lot like kings that find ways to get back to their throne.