The transfer window has only just closed but already rumours are doing the rounds and papers are speculating about what will happen in January. One of the more popular stories has revolved around Manchester United and a Greek ‘wonderkid’ by the name of Sotiris Ninis. The twenty year old is Greece’s great hope for the future and has become a key player for Greek giants Panathinaikos in the past couple of seasons. According to various papers Manchester United are amongst a host of top European clubs including Real Madrid and AC Milan who are tracking the player, with Ferguson hoping he can replace Paul Scholes when the United legend finally hangs up his boots. The question is, is Ninis the man to fill these sizeable shoes?
Sotiris Ninis is an attacking midfielder who can play centrally or on the wing. His favoured position is that of a central playmaker however, and you imagine this is where Ferguson would imagine him playing for United if the transfer were to go ahead. Fifa’s profile of the player says
“Ninis is equipped with delightful technique, incredible vision, staggering pace and a shot of considerable power.”
The man he may eventually replace at Old Trafford, Paul Scholes, has all of these qualities bar blistering pace, and so if one goes on Fifa’s words Ninis could well be a good successor to Scholes. Ninis’ CV already makes for some impressive reading. He made his debut at Panathinaikos at the age of just 16, picking up the man of the match award in the process and in December 2007, he became the youngest recipient of the Greek Super League’s young player of the year award. Ninis is also the youngest player to have been capped and to have scored for Greece and has picked up a total of 8 caps thus far. Although he was criminally underused by a conservative Otto Rehhagel at this years World Cup, he is universally regarded as Greece’s best hope for the future.
A quality that Ninis certainly has is creativity, something Manchester United have somewhat lacked in the past few seasons. When United need a creative spark, it is often down to Ryan Giggs or Paul Scholes to provide it but Ferguson knows they will not be there forever and whilst Nani is looking more and more like a good successor to Giggs, United do not yet have a player who will be able to replace Scholes. If Ninis were to arrive at Old Trafford, that might be changed.
Ferguson has made a real effort to sign talented young players in recent years as the transfer market has become hugely inflated by the likes of Manchester City and Real Madrid’s vast expenditure. This summer he brought Javier Hernandez, Chris Smalling and Bebe to the club, and if Ninis were added to that list next year it would certainly fit in with Ferguson’s current mantra. If Ninis were to arrive at Man Utd, it would probably not be at any point this season, but the Mirror has reported that negotiations with Panathinaikos have already been opened. Ninis has a release clause of £8 million in his contract should a foreign club come calling, so it would by no means be a bank breaking deal.
Sotiris Ninis is one of the most exciting young talents in European football and is set for a big future in the game. Paul Scholes has already hinted at retirement at the end of this season, and when he finally leaves he will leave a huge hole in the team. If Ninis is brought to Manchester United next year however and can fulfill his immense potential, the blow of losing Scholes could just be that little easier to take.