I’ve put some very good habits in place over the last few seasons; signing young talented players on the cheap whilst developing academy players and giving them first team opportunities. We’ve been happy to sell the occasional player for a healthy profit and replace from within. This model initially helped us to stabilise the finances and eventually turn us into a rich and successful club who gives youngsters opportunities. We are however at a crossroads after another poor show in the Champions League group stages.
Our lack of progress in Europe is partly down to this model. Nurturing potential has huge rewards both personally and financially, but it does put us at a disadvantage against Champions League hardened squads, who have a few world-class players in their ranks. Now that we’re comfortable financially we might have to break the mould and change our methods somewhat in order to compete in the later stages of the Champions League.
So what’s needed? Some ready-made, top class players of our own. Adding a few seasoned pros will cost us, predominantly in wages, but mixed with a few wonderkids we can hopefully find a winning blend of youth and class. So, it’ been a busy transfer window at Aris Thessaloniki.
Proven international experience comes in the shape of France midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin. He’s 33 now but still has quality attributes, so a one year deal should get the best out of him as part of an immediate squad improvement. Added steel in midfield comes from Ignasi Rodríguez. The enthusiastic ball winning midfield signs on a free transfer from Barcelona and is a potential future captain.
We’ve lost our wonderkid right back, Michalis Niaros, as he returns to Arsenal after his two year loan deal expires, and we’ve lost our star defender, Anthony Dao, who’s £15M buyout was met by Sevilla. These losses have seen me spend big for the first time, as I bring in proven defensive replacements:
Commanding centre back, Miguel Estrela, join from Panathinaikos for £5M. We’ve brought in one of the best centre backs in Greece and weakened a rival at the same time. He’ll form a centre back partnership with Matt Miazga; the American international joins from Stade Rennais FC on a free transfer. We’ve brought in new full backs too; Greek international, Manthos Alibrantis, comes in at right back for £4.5M from Leicester. Our new left back is Swedish international Jonas Waldenström. He joins from Malmo for £1.8M. Italian wonderkid, Franco Brovarone, joins on a two year loan from Arsenal as well. He can operate in either full back position and provides quality backup. We’ve gained around £4M (though probably lost that in signing on fees) but improved the defence overall.
My first choice goalkeeper and current captain, Homera Silva, is murmuring about a move to any one of half a dozen top European clubs interested in his signature. As usual he’ll be allowed to go, for the right price. I’ve already signed his replacement on a free transfer, current Belgium under 21 goalkeeper, Hicham Essoussi. He matches Homero for attributes so we can afford to let him go whilst increasing the war chest for other areas of the squad. We’re yet to receive an acceptable bid but the situation is calm.
In attack we’ve hit the loan market to bring in three attack-minded midfield wonderkids, all on two year deals. Jiri Polak, a central midfield playmaker joins from Man City, while Per Lykke (a shadow striker from Spurs) and Alejandro Giménez (an attacking midfielder from Barcelona) add some exciting flair, creativity and energy to the final third.
My biggest spend wasn’t actually on a proven player (tut tut), but the incredibly high attributes of 17 year old Russian winger, Magomed Yefimov, was enough to convince me to outlay a club record £12M for his services. We’ve got ourselves a big star in the making here, who’s good enough to contribute right away. He’ll be challenging inside forward, Richairo Zivkovic, for the left wing slot this season.
Star striker, Mauro Tissera, is about to sign new long term deal as well. His minimum fee release clause will rise from £8M to £19M, putting us in a much stronger position to keep him in Thessaloniki (A late twist! Having already agreed terms with the player, Marseille swooped in with a late £8M bid to steal away our star striker. The race is on to find a replacement before the window closes).
Of course signing so many players at once represents a risk, they’ll need time to gel, but if you risk nothing you gain nothing. There’s no doubting that the quality in the squad has massively improved with these new additions. With pre-season friendlies against Inter, Juventus, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atlético Madrid and River Plate, we’ll soon see if we can hold our own against some of the very best.
Last season we went undefeated and won the league by 12 points. It wasn’t to be done a second time around but 10 points still represents a very comfortable lead for us. Avoiding the Euro Places Playoff and entering the Champions League directly remains a top priority each season, winning the title is the only way to do that.
August 2022 (pre season)
Aris receive £10M for playing in the Champions League group stage.
Aris announce a link with Japanese side Niigata Unicorn, to boost merchandising sales.
Ari are drawn in Group A of the Champions League alongside Leverkusen, Roma and Olympique de Marseille.
Aris are eliminated from the Champions League, finishing 4th in Group A with 6 points.
Young Aris defender and Japan international, Tôru Chino, wins the Young Asian Footballer of the Year Award.
Tôru Chino comes 2nd in the Asian Footballer of the Year award.
After 13 years playing in Germany Kyriakos Papadopoulos makes his return to Greek football, joining Aris from Leverkusen for £230K
Fede (captain) leaves for pastures new in a £4.8M move to Oostende.
Aris retain the Greek Superleague, winning a 3rd consecutive title with a squad average age of 23.
Aris qualify for the 2023 Champions League group stages.
Mauro Tissera’s 23 league goals for Aris is a new club record.
Aris do the double after winning the Greek Cup (3 times in 4 years).