Eredivisie prospects given a chance to showcase their talents
With the Greek national team experiencing somewhat of a transitional phase, Dutch head coach John van ‘t Schip has included Eredivisie players Marios Vrousai, Vangelis Pavlidis and Pantelis Hatzidiakos in his squad for the two upcoming matches.
Change is happening. Sticking to his word, Van ‘t Schip is preparing for the future with the Ethniki Omada, naming an experimental squad to face Italy and Bosnia with Greece already virtually out of the running for a place at UEFA Euro 2020. All attention has now been shifted onto the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign, with veterans Kostas Manolas, Kostas Mitroglou, Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Vasilis Torosidis left out of the team for these two games.
The Eredivisie has turned into a hotbed for Greek talent. This month, Marios Vrousai, Vangelis Pavlidis and Pantelis Hatzidiakos - who all play in the Netherlands - were summoned to the senior national team. Let’s take a closer look at the trio:
Marios Vrousai (Willem II)
Vrousai is rightly considered one of the biggest prospects in the Greek game. In January, Olympiacos took the decision to loan Vrousai to Willem II for the next 18 months, and it has proven to be a wise call. It’s also worth remembering that talented left-back Konstantinos Tsimikas was loaned to Willem II by Olympiacos before he returned to Piraeus a much better, more experienced player.
Vrousai has transformed into a key player for Willem II. So far, the 21-year-old has made 27 appearances for the Dutch club across all competitions since joining in January, contributing with five goals and eight assists. He has also broken into the senior Greek national team in the process, notably included in the starting line-up for the two Euro 2020 qualifiers against Finland and Liechtenstein in September. Although the results were disappointing, Vrousai did show flashes of his undoubted talent in those games.
The fact he is capable of playing either on the wings or down the middle certainly helps. If he continues playing with such productivity in the Eredivisie, you can be sure that he will be a part of the Olympiacos senior team next year.
Vangelis Pavlidis (Willem II)
Pavlidis, 20, has started the 2019/2020 campaign in inspired form for Willem II by already registering six Eredivisie goals in just eight matches. Statistics any forward would be proud of.
The turning point for Pavlidis was his transfer to Willem II in the winter transfer window. Initially, Willem II only loaned Pavlidis from VfL Bochum for the second half of the 2018/2019 season, but the Dutch organisation subsequently paid Bochum a reported fee of 250,000 euros to sign him on a permanent basis in the summer. Pavlidis is now already worth 1,75 million according to Transfermarkt.
A mobile player, Pavlidis finds himself in great positions inside the penalty area, often taking advantage of his opportunities. At the moment, Efthymis Koulouris and Anastasios Donis are above him in the national team hierarchy, but he is pushing for a place in Van ‘t Schip’s starting 11. It remains to be seen how long it takes until a bigger club signs Pavlidis.
Pantelis Hatzidiakos (AZ Alkmaar)
The promising centre-back is gradually making a name for himself. Born on the island of Rhodes, Hatzidiakos did begin his career in the Panathinaikos academy, but AZ decided to sign him in 2011 after being impressed with his performances in a junior competition. Hatzidiakos progressed through the ranks at AZ and began playing with the first team when 18 years of age.
Hatzidiakos, 22, has competed in 14 games for AZ in the current season. In all honesty, he is unlikely to often play for the Ethniki when Manolas and Papastathopoulos return, but these games against Italy and Bosnia represent a fantastic opportunity to show the Greek public his potential. One to watch for the future.