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  • Writer's pictureAri & Costa

When Insiders are Locked Out, How Do We Separate Good Shit from Bullshit?



This time last year, while lamenting the fact Pedro Martins was still our manager, we were worried about our Champions League qualifier against Maccabi Haifa. In between watching friendlies that did nothing but cause more concern over our gameplay, glimmers of hope would shine from the constant influx of information surrounding transfer business being done by the club – incidentally, none of the early transfers we made this time last summer were successful (to put it lightly). We may have been struggling, but the fans always seemed to know the wheels were turning. Regardless of whether or not there was validity in all of the claims, it felt like there was a line of communication from the club.


The story has changed entirely this year. The arrival of new sporting director Antonio Cordon and new manager Diego Martinez has already changed the atmosphere drastically. The club insiders we have kept our eyes on as fountains of information have dried up. Firsthand information has changed to echoed reports from foreign media outlets, mainly from Spain and the Iberian Peninsula. Cordon was not lying when he said he preferred to work in the shadows and out of the spotlight. This is evidenced by the first two signings we made in Vicente Iborra and Quini. Both came out of nowhere and without mention in Greek media until just prior to their signing. While these signings were abrupt and caught Greek media by surprise, they are the first two points in a pattern that has been plainly outlined by Cordon. The Spaniard has already told us during his presentation that the best deals will be done in August, closer to the transfer window’s end. The signings coming beforehand will address specific needs within the roster with positions previously identified. Based on this information and the fact there is a rebuild from a messy season, it makes sense that the early signings would be for veteran players Martinez has used before.


So where do we, the fans, look for information? With no insiders to give us the firsthand scoop, how do we decipher bullshit from good shit? Well, the answer is we follow the patterns and consider the context. We’ll look at some examples that have popped up in the media the last few days and determine whether it’s good shit or bullshit.


1. Torino, Girona, and Besiktas are making bids for Biel, he will leave Olympiacos.


Verdict: Mostly Bullshit


While there has been much talk about Pep Biel from what some have deemed a “disappointing” season, the “interest” from Torino, Girona, and Besiktas is just that, interest. Olympiacos spent a reported 6 million on Biel and is not about to short sale a player they have invested a lot of resources in. Torino has spent eight figures on players before, but usually sell players for solid sums as well to fund their purchases. This summer they have already signed Ivan Ilic for over 15 million euro with over 24 million euro spent and hardly any sales. Not likely they will make a move without offloading players. Girona spent money for the first-time last summer, since Covid hit, on transfer fees. They went pretty deep in the red last year and need to make sales before purchasing additional assets. I will not even touch Besiktas as the majority of rumors out of Turkey are plain nonsense. Case in point, the fake news about Bytyqi having already left the club and signing for Antalyaspor.

Pep Biel is reported to be very important for Martinez this season. Without a real fee in the region of at least €6million, Biel’s not going anywhere.


2. Martinez likes Joao Carvalho and Andreas Bouchalakis


Verdict: Mostly True


I know you do not want to hear it regarding Andreas Bouchalakis, but this makes sense. Almost every manager that has come through the National Team and Olympiacos has placed high value on Bouchalakis. He’s a hard worker and a locker room presence. Add to that the fact we need Greek and homegrown players for the European list. The midfielder also is generally a high accuracy passer and without the likes of Yann M’vila, represents one of the best deep ball distributors currently available to us.


The surprise for all of us is Joao Carvalho. In friendlies he has played in a deeper role than what we had seen him previously, but he has looked pretty good all things considered.


3. Martinez Does Not Count on Pepe or Zinckernagel


Verdict: True, but context missing


Let’s get Pepe out of the way. The midfielder has been a flop since arriving here. He has skill, but has no desire to be in Greece. No surprise here.


What we’ve been hearing about Philip Zinckernagel being poor in training is half-ass analysis at best and lacks context. While his friendly usage does indicate Martinez does not count on him, the reports of him being “lazy” and/or “poor in training” are downright unsubstantiated. We wonder how such a claim can be made when media have only been allowed to attend 15-20 minutes of training each day...?


A reminder, Zinckernagel was brought in last season for around €2million with the promise of competing for Champions League football only to end up being told that he was surplus to requirements after qualification for the Europa League Group Stages was secured. As it is said in Greek, once the glass has been broken, it’s hard to glue it back together – such is seemingly the case between Olympiacos and Zinckernagel, who enjoyed great success with Standard Liege last season while on loan in the Belgian Pro League. It’s no secret that Zinckernagel would’ve liked to extend his stay at Standard Liege where he scored 10 goals in 27 games and made the Belgian Pro Leagues Best Starting 11 for the season past. Both Liege and Brugge are interested in acquiring his services on a permanent basis and there has been persistent talk about interest from Trabzonspor and Turkish clubs. Until now though, clubs trying to lure Philip have been unable to meet Olympiacos’ valuation of the player (around €3-4million).


We would’ve liked to see Zinckernagel replicate his form from last season in the red and white of Olympiacos. Alas, it doesn’t look like it’s meant to be.


4. Munir Chouiar from Basaksehir is linked with Olympiacos


Verdict: Probably Bullshit


While Olympiacos is in need of another winger, this does not exactly fit the pattern of what we have signed so far. First, the source tagged us (Gate7Intl) in his announcement and looking through his history does not have a solid track record. Second, this is not from the Spanish market or one of the other markets, such as Argentina tapped into for deals. While I would believe that there is a cursory interest in the player, I highly doubt we will pursue him.


5. Olympiacos close to Granada for LB Carlos Neva for 2.5 million Euro


Verdict: Probably True


This fits the pattern of the players we have signed before and along the lines of Cordon’s modus operandi. He played for Martinez before and it seems we are about to sell Oleg. If Oleg goes for 4.5 million and we bring in Neva for 2.5? That would sound like Cordon type of business although latest news from Spain indicate that a fee has not yet been fully agreed… despite the player already following Olympiacos on Instagram !


6. Jordan Holsgrove leaving Pacos de Ferreira to sign for Olympiacos


Verdict: Probably True


Popular Portuguese sports daily OJogo and Record have both come out linking 23-year-old Scottish midfielder Jordan Holsgrove with Olympiacos. A left footer, Holsgrove played last season at Pacos de Ferreira (relegated at the end of last season) scoring 2 goals and serving 3 assists in 27 appearances.


Once again, this one comes totally out of the blue but this is a position where we have not necessarily been looking for a player as:


- Joao Carvalho received a lot of praise recently having played as a central midfielder during pre-season camp in Austria

- Aguibou Camara plays in the same position and is returning from the U23 AFCON

- Jose Anigo was keen on giving room to Christos Mouzakitis to shine. He was supposed to go to pre-season training but was reported to have picked up an injury that kept him out of the squad that travelled to Austria. Mouzakitis is still only 16 but is also a left footed midfielder and together with Babis Kostoulas, he’s one of the Olympiacos academy gems


The only explanations we can see for this potential signing would be:


- His age and left foot; a quick look at the data and analytics doesn’t give great cause for excitement but he is still relatively young with potential upside

- His agents: CA Stellar


Olympiacos and Nottingham Forest did a lot of business with CAA Stellar last season. Today, their list of clients includes the likes of Cedric Bakambu, Morgan Gibbs-White, Moussa Niakhate, Jonjo Shelvey, and Omar Richards among others.


Often when a club like Olympiacos gets close to big football agencies like CAA and Gestifute, clubs have to buy 1 or 2 players/clients to get the player they really want e.g. Daniel Podence came with Ahmed Hassan and Roderick Miranda. Perhaps Holsgrove is part of a new package deal with CAA but whether the real target is a player for Nottingham or Olympiacos is surely a question that will trigger Olympiacos fans as the first official fixture of the year edges closer.


Rumours like these will continue to run rampant until the window’s end. August, in particular, will be rife with bullshit. Just remember the context and remember the patterns.


Our goal at G7INTL is always to hone in on the good shit and push aside the bullshit.


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