This article is part of Football League World’s ‘Fan’s Voice’ series, where we gather original opinions from those closest to the clubs concerned on matters surrounding their team and share them with a wider audience…
Luring a promising talent coveted by the likes of Napoli, Porto, Atalanta & Monaco to the Championship is no mean feat.
By Greek international full-back Dimitris Giannoulis, Norwich City demonstrated their ambition and commitment to returning to the Premier League with the quality to keep them there. Since his signing, the Championship leaders’ defensive solidity and reinvigorated attacking fluidity seem to suggest that this was an astute signing.
Described by some as ‘Robertson-esque’, the PAOK left-back has gained widespread admiration for his defensive solidity, passing ability and counter-attacking prowess. Quick, composed and technically gifted, the 25-year-old is a strong addition indicative of the direction in which the club is progressing.
A £450,000 loan fee helped City secure Giannoulis until the end of the season, at which point the Canaries will be obligated to buy the Greek defender for £6.2million, if they achieve promotion. This goal is looking increasingly likely, with impressive wins over Coventry City and Rotherham United propelling City back into form recently.
Coventry’s triumph over Brentford on Saturday opened up a seven-point gap between the Bees and the league leaders, albeit with third-placed Swansea holding two games in hand on both clubs. Some difficult tests are yet to be navigated; however, Farke’s side currently look destined for a top-flight return.
Given City’s ambitions, Giannoulis’ talent and the calibre of clubs who have previously made bids for the full-back, a sum totalling under £7million could prove to be a bargain. In his five appearances for Norwich, the Greek has demonstrated serious promise. As part of a sturdy backline, he has conceded just once in those four matches, keeping three clean-sheets. While Giannoulis’ poor misplaced-pass to Stoke’s Nick Powell was directly responsible for this goal, he responded by going straight up the other end and notching a smart assist for Buendia’s goal. This reaction underlines the new signing’s resilience and grit.
Can you score full marks in this quiz about Norwich City's 2020/21 season so far?
Giannoulis’ attacking quality has also been increasingly clear during his early efforts for City. He has provided a natural offensive option which stand-in full-back Thomas Sorensen lacks, repeatedly finding space on the left flank and contributing to free-flowing attacking movements. His slick, efficient combinations with Todd Cantwell, who naturally tends to drift infield, have led to numerous opportunities. If Giannoulis can continue to deliver sharp final balls similar to his assist at Stoke, he is set to make a strong contribution to the Yellows’ promotion chase.
A look at the left-back’s record in Greece only strengthens expectations of what he can bring to East Anglia. In his 78 appearances for PAOK Thessaloniki, Giannoulis notched ten assists and two goals, an impressive return for a defender.
For Atromitos Athens he recorded an equally noteworthy 14 assists in 53 matches, and his efforts in the Greek top-flight have prompted consistent call-ups to his national side, for whom he has featured on 11 occasions. Giannoulis has also played repeatedly in the Europa League for PAOK.
Such pedigree is difficult to come by in the Championship, and his move to Norwich looks set to bolster City’s title chase. Following serial injuries to Xavi Quintilla, Sam Byram and Bali Mumba, the introduction of a naturally left-sided defender with proven offensive ability will seriously improve this Norwich side’s potency in the long run.
Already, the benefits of having such a player have been evident. If promotion is secured, both Giannoulis and rock-solid Burnley loanee Ben Gibson will sign permanently, strengthening a defence which disappointed in 2019-20.
Giannoulis’ signing represents an important step forward for City. The club’s willingness to invest transfer funds to ensure we have the quality to reach and remain in the Premier League will please Canaries fans immensely. Giannoulis’ early efforts show genuine promise; if his form continues to develop, Farke’s side may have gained an absolute gem.