Wednesday, 5 June 2013


Who is he? Where does he play?

He is a versatile Greek 21 year old centre-defender playing in Germany with Schalke. However, he's not your ordinary Greek 21 year old centre-defender, oh no. There is something you should know about Papadopoulos, he's crazy!!

Crazy!? In what way?

Schalke fans call him "verruckt", "crazy" in English and he departed Olympiakos, with whom he impressed through the youth set-up, by saying they were just a "stepping stone" in his career. Normal Greek players see Olympiakos as the zenith of the Greek game, but Papadopoulos clearly isn't normal, the man who believed his talent that much he gave Greek coach Fernando Santos a dressing down in front of the team when he was left out of the first two games of the Euro 2012 tournament.

Nothing wrong with a bit of self-belief...

Not when you are just on the fringes of the national side and have to accept your position as a youngster. Though he did make his breakthrough in the tournament, in the final group game with Russia, and concreted his position in the side since then, he already has 16 caps. Stavros Drakoularakos, a writer for Greece's largest sports website Sport24, sees him as a "captain of the future" for the national side, but he would probably tell you he is ready to be captain now".

So is he right to be that egotistical?

Being tall, powerful and quick, it would take a bold soul to argue against his inflated hubris. He challenges for every high ball, winning 30 of his 36 aerial duels in the Bundesliga last season as well as 36 of his 37 tackles which gave him the second highest tackle-success rate in the German top division. If that is not indicative enough of his imposing solidity, he also topped the clearances-per-game chart with 6.51 and the interceptions-per-game chart with 3.77. Drakoularakos is a critic of his passing, saying he "needs to work on his distribution to become one of the best defenders in Europe", though an 89% pass completion rate this season suggests he already adept at building the ball from the back.

He probably would have had an even more successful season had knee surgery obliterated the second half of his campaign. 

Liverpool are closing in on him, we believe?

Yes they are, Brendan Rodgers seeing the Greek as a potentially gifted addition to his back four, with his electric pace also allowing him to implement the higher-defensive line he has been so-far unable to utilise since taking over at Anfield. Though with Schalke having qualified for the Champions League, the player's agent Paul Koutsoliakos has said he is "perfectly happy to remain in Gelsenkirchen, though he seems to have his heart set on a move to Merseyside having traveled over to watch them play Fulham in the closing game of the season. 

The Sun believe he will cost around £15 million and Liverpool will face competition from Athletico Madrid, Chelsea and Manchester City

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