Liverpool officially confirmed the signing of Greek left-back Kostas Tsimikas earlier this week, after days of speculation.
The former Olympiacos star joins the Reds for a fee of around £12million and has agreed a five-year deal at Anfield.
Although he’s played in the Champions League, not many Liverpool fans will had heard of Tsimikas before the move.
You can find the rundown of our chat below:
LC: Tsimikas says he and his family are Liverpool fans – do you know this to be true? Are there many Liverpool supporters in Greece?
HF: There is a great amount of support for Liverpool in Greece. In fact, it is the most supported club and as far as we understand there is a Liverpool Fan Club in Thessaloniki, the second largest city in Greece, also his birthplace so that is the connection Tsimikas has with Liverpool from his childhood.
LC: Do you know of any significance behind the No.21 shirt? Both No.6 and No.2 were available…
HF: 21 is the number Tsimikas opted for during his loan stint with Willem II and he enjoyed a full 2017/18 season for the Dutch club. That is where Liverpool scouts first spotted the prospect and he was monitored ever since. Tsimikas then made the decision to wear the number 21 when he returned to Olympiakos and will continue to wear it at Liverpool. It is a number he likes, and has enjoyed success with it too.
LC: How highly rated is Tsimikas in Greece?
HF: Very highly talented. Arguably the 2019/20 season was Tsimikas’ best so far and he emerged as the best left-back in Greece, ahead of PAOK’s Dimitris Giannoulis, another great talent by the way, excelled fantastically under Pedro Martins who trusted Tsimikas over Leonardo Koutris for the position and was a key player for Olympiakos’ 45th league title.
Tsimikas’ defensive abilities are as good as his offensive abilities, a pacey player with good ball control, shows great endurance and likes runs down the flank and whip in crosses. In terms of weaknesses, his ball passing at times and finishing technique are not great but guarantee with the quality of the players surrounding him he will improve and develop into an incredible player.
His performances in the league and in European competitions last season caught the attention of several European clubs such as Atletico Madrid, Napoli, OGC Nice, Lokomotiv Moscow, Leicester City and Chelsea – either enquiring or submitting bids to Olympiakos. Liverpool emerged from nowhere and won the race to sign Tsimikas.
LC: Is he versatile? I hear he can play in midfield. If so, how good is he playing out of position?
HF: Tsimikas has never been utilised as a midfielder but as a left winger, and has played in that position only three times during his career. Once for Esbjerg, once for Willem II and once for Olympiakos. Versatility wise, Tsimikas can play further up, but is much preferred at left-back and is viable option for the position.
LC: Is he ready for the jump from Olympiacos to Liverpool? There are very high expectations…
HF: It is one of the biggest transfers in Greek football, though the biggest in terms of prestige and has got people talking in Greece and Cyprus. It is incredible to see Greek talent being recognised in Europe and many passionate Greek football fans are hoping to see more transfers like this one in the future.
From the Greek Super League to the Premier League is an enormous leap and no doubt holds high expectations. Tsimikas, of course, will be second-choice to Andrew Robertson, an area where Liverpool had no cover for the Scot. One thing to remember is Tsimikas is yet to reach his peak. He concentrates on football and is a very hard worker. Highly praised by Jurgen Klopp, who states Tsimikas is a player who shows great mentality. However, on the football pitch is where it matters the most. When Tsimikas is given the opportunity by Klopp, he just needs to prove him right.
LC: Lastly, what would it mean to see a Greek player lift the Premier League or Champions League trophy again?
HF: Just recently, Sokratis Papastathopoulos became the first Greek in history to win the FA Cup with Arsenal. It would mean even more to all Greek football fans see any Greek player win the Premier League and the Champions League. The last time a Greek player came close to winning the Champions League was Akis Zikos for Monaco in the 0-3 loss against Mourinho’s Porto in 2004.
Even further back, Greek players who also came close to winning a European competition were part of the legendary 1971 Panathinaikos team who lost 2-0 to Ajax in the European Cup final at the old Wembley. Kostas Tsimikas has already set his ambitions, to help Liverpool win the Premier League again and for Champions League glory once again.