Ten best Greeks Abroad of the 2018/2019 season
AGONAsport analyses the 2018/2019 season for 10 of the best Greeks Abroad.
Yes, the 2019/2020 season is already starting, but there’s still time to look back and reflect on how the previous campaign unfurled for some of the Greeks playing their football in different countries. In Portugal, Odisseas Vlachodimos and Andreas Samaris played a major role in Benfica’s run to the national championship, while Sokratis Papastathopoulos became a leader for Arsenal and Lazaros Lamprou shone in the Netherlands.
Let’s take a closer look at the 10 best Greeks Abroad of the 2018/2019 season:
Odisseas Vlachodimos (Benfica, goalkeeper)
It turned out to be a thoroughly successful debut season in Portugal for Vlachodimos. In the summer of 2018, Vlachodimos departed Panathinaikos for Benfica, immediately becoming the Eagles’ starting goalkeeper. In the UEFA Champions League, the 25-year-old promptly helped Benfica qualify for the group stages with solid showings in the qualifiers against Fenerbahce and PAOK, before he then starred with a fantastic performance in the 3:2 win over AEK in Athens.
In the Liga NOS, Vlachodimos gained 15 clean sheets in 34 games, helping Benfica edge FC Porto and claim the title. At international level, he is still yet to fully find his feet with the Greek national team, but he boasts bags of talent with his profile rapidly growing.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos (Arsenal, defender)
In truth, it was yet another thoroughly disappointing season for the Gunners, as they languished in fifth place of the English Premier League and conceded a bitter defeat to Chelsea in the UEFA Europa League final. Nevertheless, despite the team’s obvious problems, Papastathopoulos was a reliable figure in defence with his passionate, committed style of play. He also contributed with three goals across all competitions.
At times, the experienced centre-back was guilty of making the odd rash challenge, but he offered Arsenal much-needed leadership at the back. Many Arsenal fans have called for Papastathopoulos to be named captain.
Lazaros Lamprou (Fortuna Sittard, winger)
This was his breakout year. Initially, Lamprou began the 2018/2019 season with parent club PAOK, but he wasn’t in Razvan Lucescu’s plans and the Dikefalos tou Vorra sent him on loan to Fortuna Sittard. The best decision which could have been made.
Lamprou was given the perfect platform on which to display his potential. In the Eredivisie, Fortuna Sittard are far from being one of the big guns, but that didn’t prevent Lamprou from shining. Overall, the gifted 21-year-old registered seven goals and eight assists in 24 Eredivisie games, standing out with his technical ability. PAOK have consequently recalled Lamprou to Thessaloniki this summer, extending his contract through to 2023 at the same time. It remains to be seen whether Lamprou becomes a first team regular in Thessaloniki.
Andreas Samaris (Benfica, midfielder)
It’s been a dramatic turnaround for the 30-year-old. At the start of the season, Samaris was firmly out of favour in Lisbon, but everything changed when Bruno Lage replaced Rui Vitoria as the head coach in January.
All of a sudden, Samaris was given a chance in the first team, impressing Lage enough to regularly be included in the starting 11. During the second half of the 2018/2019 season, the midfielder was an important player for Benfica, playing with consistency as the Eagles soared to the Portuguese title. Samaris scored two goals and made three assists in 19 Liga NOS appearances.
Kostas Manolas (AS Roma, defender)
Admittedly, it wasn’t a vintage season for Roma as the Italians crashed out of the Champions League in the Last 16 and finished in sixth place of Serie A, but Manolas still played well enough to persuade Napoli to activate his release clause of 36 million euros.
According to reports, the feisty centre-back was also wanted by Arsenal and Manchester United, however he decided to remain in Italy. In the past season, Manolas was a stand-out player for Roma again, competing with passion in defence and netting two goals. Transfermarkt rates his value at 45 million.
Dimitris Siovas (Leganes, defender)
Siovas hasn’t been able to replicate his Leganes success with the Greek national team, but he was solid for the Spanish outfit in La Liga. The fact he was voted the Leganes Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the 2018/2019 season by the supporters speaks volumes.
In accordance with statistics provided by CIES, Siovas was ranked among Europe’s best centre-backs, winning 82% of his aerial duels. The physically strong - albeit slow - 30-year-old defender has two years remaining on his Leganes contract.
Carlos Zeca (FC Copenhagen, midfielder)
A key player for both club and country. Considering that Zeca plays in the Danish Superliga, he doesn’t receive the credit he deserves, but his reliability in Scandinavia has made him a fans’ favourite in Copenhagen. Just look at the flag display which the Copenhagen supporters created for Zeca last October:
Wearing the captain’s armband on his sleeve and the number 10 on his back, Zeca keeps Copenhagen ticking, providing a productive link between defence and attack. Zeca steered Copenhagen to the Danish championship by playing in 32 league games and even popping up with the one goal.
Jose Cholevas (Watford, defender)
A controversial player for many Greek fans. Cholevas doesn’t possess the easiest of characters, but for the vast majority of the 2018/2019 season, he did well with Watford in the English Premier League as the club claimed 11th position of the table.
In the Premier League, the 35-year-old left-back tallied three goals and six assists, bombing forward on the flank to good effect. Watford reached the FA Cup final too, but in the showpiece game against Manchester City, Cholevas endured a nightmare as his side received a 0:6 thrashing.
Anastasios Donis (VfB Stuttgart, forward)
His progress is there for all to see. Donis, 22, settled with Stuttgart in his second season with the club, striking five goals and dishing out three assists in the Bundesliga. Sadly for Stuttgart, Donis’ best efforts couldn’t save the club from relegation, as they suffered the drop after losing to Union Berlin in the playoffs.
At the moment, Donis is still a Stuttgart player, but there is a chance he will leave the organisation before the transfer window ends with the forward keen to remain in the Bundesliga. His value is rated at four million by Transfermarkt.
Marios Vrousai (Willem II, winger)
Another Greek prospect taking the Eredivisie by storm. Willem II teammate Vangelis Pavlidis shouldn’t be ignored either.
In January, Vrousai was loaned to Willem II by Olympiacos, with the 21-year-old winger having not been given many opportunities by Pedro Martins. Ever since that move, Vrousai has began to truly show his talent, becoming an important player for Willem II by scoring four goals and making five assists in the Eredivisie. Vrousai will remain on loan at Willem II for the 2019/2020 campaign.