Newcastle United may have missed the boat on an all-round defender after Norwich City secured the services of PAOK Thessaloniki left-back Dimitris Giannoulis on loan.
According to Sky Sports (Transfer Centre, 19/1, 17:13), Newcastle were one of an array of top sides, including Serie A big-hitters SSC Napoli, to have tracked Giannoulis over the past 18-months.
The 25-year-old has moved to Carrow Road on a half-season deal, which carries a £6m option to buy at the end the season should Daniel Farke secure the Canaries an immediate return to the Premier League.
Norwich are said to have monitored Giannoulis’ situation since they were in the top-flight last term, and now have a highly-rated talent with Premier League quality on their hands.
Giannoulis had started 11 of his 12 Super League appearances in the 2020/21 season before securing a move to England, while featuring in PAOK’s Champions League qualifying campaign and Europa League Group Stage efforts.
Farke considers the 11-cap Greece international to be a player not only for the now at Norwich but for the mid-to-long-term future, as the defender still has plenty of scope for development.
“In Dimitris, we’ve found the piece we were searching for. He’s a good age with lots of room for improvement,” he said, via quotes by The Pink Un. “He totally fits to the way we want to play, with attacking full-backs and lots of pace.”
Giannoulis earned an array of admirers for his efforts in Greece after proving himself to be an all-round option at left-back, with two goals and 10 assists in 78 games for PAOK across all competitions.
Giannoulis is described by Sky Sports as a very creative full-back for his endless stream of crosses delivered into the box and, while citing Wyscout data, add that he had won an impressive 60 per cent of his defensive duels and made four interceptions per game on average this season.
Liverpool’s £75m defensive titan Virgil van Dijk similarly won 63% of his duels in the Premier League this season before sustaining anterior cruciate ligament damage, while Manchester United’s £80m Harry Maguire wins 52% of his total ground duels, per SofaScore.
But no Premier League defender offers as many interceptions a game as Giannoulis offered PAOK, with the 5 ft 10 ace’s performances far eclipsing the English top-flight’s best offering of Leicester City’s Wesley Fofana (2.64), among those who have featured more than five times this term.
Liverpool’s Andrew Robertson, considered to be one of the best left-backs in the world, also offers 2.22 accurate crosses a game for the most by a Premier League defender, to help toward the second-most key passes (1.89) by a backline member.
Newcastle singing Giannoulis this month, then, may have seen the Toon land a far better option than rumoured target Brandon Williams, who Sky Sports (Transfer Centre, 19/1, 13:42) claim the Magpies face competition from Southampton and Bayer Leverkusen to land on loan this month.
Williams has been an outcast at Manchester United this season with only eight appearances across all competitions, including just six minutes of Premier League football, after breaking through under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last term.
The Red Devils prospect started 11 of his 17 top-flight outings in 2019/20, but rarely created any chances in the box with just 0.2 accurate crosses a game and barely broke up opposition play compared to Giannoulis with a mere 0.9 interceptions on average, per SofaScore.
AND in other news, Newcastle face heightened competition for a £2.7m target…