Patient, determined Samaris enjoying renaissance
Andreas Samaris is back. In the first half of the campaign, it firmly appeared his best days were behind him, but the Benfica midfielder has since made an impressive improvement after earning the trust of the coaching staff.
You couldn’t have imagined a worse start to the season for Samaris. In the summer UEFA Champions League qualifiers, the 29-year-old midfielder was kept on the bench for the four games against Fenerbahce and PAOK, and he was subsequently left out of the squad for the group stage of the competition. The fact that Samaris was only given a combined total of six (!) minutes on the pitch in the opening 14 rounds of the Portuguese Primeira Liga speaks volumes about the level of trust from then Benfica head coach Rui Vitoria.
However, ever since Bruno Lage became the new Benfica manager on January 14, his fortunes have drastically changed for the better.
All of a sudden, Samaris has become a first team regular for the Lisbon organisation. In 2019, the Greek international has been included in the Benfica starting line-up for 11 of 14 domestic championship games, popping up with two goals and two assists. Samaris has helped Benfica move into joint first position of the league as they mount a serious title challenge.
It really does show how important a coach is for a player. After Lage received the role of Benfica boss, confidence has returned to Samaris, with the manager’s whole-hearted belief resulting in the midfielder taking his game to the next level. Angelos Anastasiadis, coach of the Greek national team, also deserves credit in Samaris’ revival.
Back in November, Anastasiadis decided to summon Samaris for the closing UEFA Nations League matches, even though he was out in the cold with Benfica. Yes, Samaris didn’t shine in those particular games, but he could see that the Ethniki Omada hadn’t lost confidence in his abilities. In late March, Samaris gave a good impression in the opening two qualifiers of UEFA Euro 2020, displaying some clever touches in the 2:0 victory against Liechtenstein and thrilling 2:2 draw with the Bosnians. His passionate, hugely patriotic rendition of the Greek national anthem in Zenica was a moment to savour.
Benfica even want to renew Samaris’ contract. At the moment, his deal with the Eagles is due to expire in the coming June, but rumours have suggested he will extend his stay at Benfica. Taking into account that he was considered persona-non-grata at Benfica not long ago, it is some achievement to whizz across to the other side of the spectrum in such a short space of time.
Overall, Samaris has made 19 appearances so far in the 2018/2019 campaign, contributing with two goals and two assists. His value is rated at six million euros by Transfermarkt.