While many fans might not notice, the Greek Super League played a huge role in English football last season. Wolverhampton Wanderers finished tenth in the Premier League last season thanks to the strong goalkeeping of Jose Sa and the attacking of Daniel Podence, both bought from Olympiacos. Luka Milivojevic, Crystal Palace’s captain for much of last season, and Konstantinos Tsimikas, Liverpool’s FA Cup hero, both came from the Athens-based club, too.
Norwich City had Christos Tzolis and Dimitrios Giannoulis, both signed from PAOK Thessaloniki. West Ham’s Arthur Masuaku represented Olympiacos. Aston Villa’s Robin Olsen played for PAOK several seasons ago. That’s just looking at recent players: Arsenal, Fulham, Newcastle, and more have had their share of Super League imports.
With all that success, it’s strange that talent development in Greece isn’t being acknowledged as much as it should. After all, the Greek Super League has several players who surely are ready to test themselves in bigger leagues. Here are some of the best talents under the age of 23 plying their trade in the Super League.
Mario Mitaj, 18, AEK Athens
Mitaj introduced himself on a global stage when he became one of Albania’s youngest ever players in a victory over San Marino last year. Since then, Mitaj has been in and out of the AEK Athens team, including playing a full 90 minutes in a Europa League match against Leicester. A versatile player with good vision and control, he could take a starting role this season.
Konstantinos Tzolakis, 19, Olympiacos
Tzolakis made his debut as a 17-year-old filling in for future Wolves goalkeeper Jose Sa. Since then, he’s made 17 appearances, including a clean sheet in the Greek Cup final. However, Olympiacos has continued a policy of having a veteran in goal, so if Tzolakis can’t become a starter this year, he might move on. A tall goalkeeper with steady hands, Tzolakis will have no shortage of suitors.
Sotiris Alexandropoulos, 20, Panathinaikos
Alexandropoulos is one of Greece’s top talents, already capped five times. He’s played his entire career with Panathinaikos, joining from their youth ranks and playing 78 times since then. Alexandropoulos also won the Greek Cup. He’s proven himself in the Super League and it’s probably time to take a step up, either in Germany or Italy. A strong yet skillful midfielder, he’d be a great fit for any team that needs depth in midfield.
Giannis Konstantelias, 19, PAOK
Konstantelias has been making headlines for a while: a few years ago, he went on trial with Barcelona and multiple top clubs reportedly bid for him. He elected to stay in Greece but, with limited play time, left for Belgium on loan in January. Now back at the club, this has every chance to be his breakout season. An elusive dribbler who can find an open man and win the ball back, he’s undoubtedly talented.
Georgios Vagiannidis, 20, Panathinaikos
Vagiannidis looked destined for great things after moving to Inter Milan from Panathinaikos in 2020, but two years later he finds himself back where he started. After signing for Inter, a loan to Sint-Truiden in Belgium followed. Vagiannidis played just once before returning, where he was promptly put on reserves. Now back among Panathinaikos’ starters, the pacy wingback should get some decent playing time.
Giannis Michailidis, 22, PAOK
Michailidis has played a big role with PAOK for years. Twice capped by the Greek national team, Michailidis has made 62 appearances at center-back for PAOK. He’s won the Greek Cup with PAOK but is coming off of a major injury, which means this upcoming season will be huge for him. Strong in the air, a great tackler, and with a powerful leg, there’s a lot to like about Michailidis.
Alexandros Lolis, 19, PAS Giannina
Lolis might not be the biggest name in Greece, nor the most successful. He has, however, played a big role for Giannina, a Super League team that has been overperforming expectations. Lolis came from Giannina’s academy and has played 39 games despite being only 19, with a further five at the youth level for Greece. A strong season could see him move to a bigger Greek team.
Georgios Koutsias, 18, PAOK
Koutsias is the third PAOK player on this list, but it’s not hard to justify it. PAOK has one of, if not the best, youth systems in all of Greece, with the likes of Christos Tzolis excelling. Koutias is another one of PAOK’s exciting young attackers: he already has Europa League experience and performed strongly at youth level. This season could be a breakout for the speedy striker with impressive finishing.
Aguibou Camara, 21, Olympiacos
Camara is an example of what has separated Olympiacos from other Super League teams: international recruiting. The Guinean international was bought from Lille last season for a fee reportedly under $200,000. The attacking midfielder has enjoyed a fine first season, with six goals and five assists. Another strong season from Camara—plus potential Champions League—could see him rejoin an elite club.
The Greek Super League might not yet be considered a top league, but it is a top development league. The league, these teams, and these players are only going to get better. Don’t be surprised to see Olympiacos or PAOK playing in European knockouts soon enough, with Aguibou Camara or Georgios Koutsias leading the way.
Think someone should be on here? Let me know in the comments!
Image Courtesy of Эдгар Брещанов, CC BY-SA 3.0 GFDL, via Wikimedia Commons.
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