Galanopoulos transforming into next midfield maestro
Last week, AEK dropped a disappointing defeat to Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League, but the superb performance of young midfielder Konstantinos Galanopoulos was a positive sideline. AGONAsport investigates.
A Greek midfielder with star quality has finally arrived. Yes, AEK’s Konstantinos Galanopoulos is only 20 years of age, but his rapid progression cannot be ignored. Let’s use the UEFA Champions League battle against German giants Bayern Munich as an example. Despite competing against the world famous Thiago Alcantara, Javi Martinez and James Rodriguez, young Galanopoulos bossed the midfield, displaying his potential with a calm, mature showing. Early in the second half, Galanopoulos drove past several Bayern opponents to create a promising chance for AEK, which ended with Anastasios Bakasetas blasting over the bar. No wonder why several reports have linked Galanopoulos with a move to Tottenham Hotspur in England.
Born in Athens, Galanopoulos joined the AEK academy when breaking into his teenage years, making his way through the ranks to eventually pen his maiden professional contract with the Kintrinomavri in August 2015. In the 2015/2016 campaign, he made his senior debut with AEK in a 0:1 defeat to Panionios in the Super League European playoffs, emerging as a substitute for the second half.
We now fast forward to the start of the subsequent 2016/2017 season. In France, AEK were playing St. Etienne in an important UEFA Europa League qualifying tie, but former Enosis boss Temur Ketsbaia surprisingly decided to introduce the inexperienced Galanopoulos for the latter stages of the 0:0 draw. After that unexpected European debut, Galanopoulos registered 1013 minutes of game time in the Super League, slowly becoming a first team regular in the process. His first goal was scored in a 4:0 thrashing of Levadiakos on December 10, 2016.
In AEK’s title winning 2017/2018 Super League season, Galanopoulos was often included in the starting line-up by Manolo Jimenez, forming a productive partnership with Andre Simoes in the middle of the park. Shielding the defence, the diminutive Greek (standing at 172 cm tall) provides an effective transition to the attacking third, able to protect possession and pass the ball forward accurately. As his cheap red card against Celtic in the UEFA Champions League qualifying rounds proved, Galanopoulos still has a lot to learn, but he doesn’t look out of place at the highest level. In fact, he’s completely at home.
Back in May, the midfielder was gifted his first cap for the senior Greek national team in a friendly with Saudi Arabia, and he’s currently a key member of the under 21 squad which is within two matches of achieving an historic qualification for the 2019 UEFA U21 European Championship in Italy. Things couldn’t be better for Galanopoulos right now, but there’s one major drawback for AEK fans - he may not be playing his football in Athens much longer. Tottenham Hotspur and Eintracht Frankfurt are heavily interested in acquiring Galanopoulos’ services, and if Greek media sources are to be believed, Frankfurt scouts were at the Olympic Stadium to watch him play against Bayern. Galanopoulos is under contract at AEK for another three years, however the Enosis are supposedly willing to listen to offers exceeding a mere five million euros. A drop in the ocean in the world we live in.