Impressive winter transfer period for PAOK
PAOK opened up the cheque book this January following the departure of star striker Aleksandar Prijovic and AGONAsport’s Athan Stylos takes a closer look into PAOK’s business throughout the January transfer window.
PAOK targeted the transfer window in a smart and strategic way following the loss of key frontman Aleksandar Prijovic. The Thessalonikis could have easily panicked under the pressure of losing the team’s leading goal scorer, but the club planned accordingly once Al-Ittihad came calling with a 10 million euro purchase price for the Serbian hitman. Although PAOK would have preferred to keep their target man, the true depth in their frontline to cover his loss has shown since his departure with the likes of Chuba Akpom, Nikos Karelis, and new arrival Karol Swiderski scoring key goals in 2019.
Newly appointed sporting director, Mario Branco, had his hands full not only dealing with transfers but also contract renewals. Last month, three key players in Diego Biseswar (2022) Alexandros Paschalakis (2022), and Angel Crespo (2021) extended their contracts with the club. Next in line, is Fernando Varela while Jose Canas and Yevhen Shakhov’s contracts also expire at the end of the season.
When chasing the signature of Polish striker Karol Swiderski, he was looked at as the ideal candidate to replace the high scoring Prijovic. In addition, his young age and potential to improve his game saw PAOK sign the 22-year old on a 3.5-year deal.
Thus far, Swiderski has delivered with thee appearances in both the Super League and Cup and two goals to date. His first goal for the club was an 87th winner off the bench helping PAOK claim all three points over PAS Giannina in a critical league win.
PAOK brought in the Croatian midfielder on a 1.5-year loan deal with a buy-out option from Portuguese club, Sporting Lisbon. Misic was signed to bolster PAOK’s midfield stocks and to cover the vacant void left by Swedish midfielder Pontus Wernbloom, who has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a serious ankle injury.
The 24-year-old central midfielder had struggled to make an impact in Lisbon after just eight league appearances and will look to secure a starting eleven spot as a holding midfielder.
On deadline day, Ingason joined PAOK on a 3.5-year deal from Russian outfit Rostov. The 25-year-old has had impressive stints abroad in the top flights of Belgium, Spain, and Russian football, while also contributing throughout Iceland’s rise to fame throughout the European Championship in 2016.
Although PAOK manager Razvan Lucescu prefers to have a consistent partnership of Fernando Varela and Jose Crespo in the center of defence, Sverrir Ingason will look to force his way into the starting line-up, with his physical and commanding presence on the pitch.
Oliveira joined PAOK on a 5-month loan deal from Portuguese club FC Porto, which will add depth to PAOK’s attacking third. The tall, attacking, and creative midfielder played a part in FC Porto’s league championship success back in the 2017/18 season, and PAOK hope that Oliveira can bring much-needed experience to the team and help secure the league title in Greece.
Loan returns for both Dimitris Giannoulis and Pedro Henrique
The transfer window saw two PAOK loanees, Dimitris Giannoulis and Pedro Henrique, return back to their parent club. Giannoulis, a promising left-back, had an excellent beginning to the season with Atromitos, providing three assists across 14 matches before returning north to Thessaloniki.
After much speculation about Pedro Henrique and his move back to Greece, Prijovic’s departure was a catalyst to his return. The Brazilian’s addition adds another attacking option to Lucescu’s arsenal.
Although the big news from Greece this January was the departure of last season’s golden boot winner, Aleksandar Prijovic, PAOK sent three out of favour players on loan for the remainder of the season. Forward Giannis Mystakidis joined Polish outfit Gornik Zabrze, while defender Stelios Kitsiou moved to Turkish club Ankaragucu. Talented Egyptian midfielder, Amr Warda, also re-joined his former club Atromitos for the rest of the campaign.