What Celtic can expect from imminent arrival Giorgos Giakoumakis - a late flowering finisher

When Giorgos Giakoumakis claimed his tenth goal across January for his Dutch club VVV-Venlo, he didn’t only post the highest total for a calendar month by any player in the Eredivisie since a 12-strike haul by a certain Marco van Basten in 1985.

Honduras' Bryan Acosta (R) fights for the ball with Greece's Giorgos Giakoumakis (L).
Honduras' Bryan Acosta (R) fights for the ball with Greece's Giorgos Giakoumakis (L).

The Greek forward – who had previously scuttled around among a number of clubs in his homeland with a brief spell in Poland – then found himself the subject of predictions. With the, now, 26-year-old’s late flowering at Venlo he had joined from AEK Athens in a £3000,000 deal only the previous summer, the player was the subject of certain predictions.

One was that the 6ft 1in, forever-busy front man looked like he could well become the first player in the Netherlands to finish the league’s top scorer with a team relegated from the top tier. His 26 league goals – in an all-competitions haul of 29 – that were offset by his club’s concession of 72 in the Eredisivie ensured that came to pass.

The other prophecy was that Giakoumakis, picked up following a largely unfruitful three-year stint in Athens – punctuated by loan spells across 2019-20 with Greek side OFI and Polish team Górnik Zabrze – would end up in the Bundesliga, La Liga or Ligue 1 this summer. Instead, with a £2.5m deal appearing to be nearing completion, a move to Scotland with Celtic has brought another twist in the career of the player.

It has been reported that fellow Greek-born Ange Postecoglou personally turned on the charm to entice the Crete native to make the switch to Parkhead. Meanwhile, the appeal of the striker for the Celtic manager would no doubt have centred around his bustle and aerial ability – two facets that are under-represented in his current frontline options.

Giakoumakis was among the most productive players for aerial duels won across the entire Dutch top flight last season. Not only did it provide him with headed goals, but also a number of assists courtesy of knock-downs, with the striker a performer that backs himself and plays with the aggression and tempo demanded by Postecoglou.

The uncertainties over what Giakoumakis will provide to Celtic come through the fact that his extraordinary goal returns in the past 12 years are very much out of keeping with what he previously produced in a career that began with Platanias, who he debuted for in 2012. It would be a further three years before he bagged his first senior goal. However, in the league campaign of 2016-17, he netted 11 times for his first club in only 26 appearances, AEK having already seen enough by then to persuade them to line up a £520,000 deal for his services.

The busy style of Giakoumakis, he will often drop deep to initiate attacks, didn’t prove in tune with one of his country’s grandee clubs as he scored only three times in 48 appearances for them. He seemed a man running out of options, and opportunities, when he washed up at Venlo. Only to completely confound expectations with finishing prowess that belied what Dutch media considered was somewhat modest technical ability. Postecoglou will believe he can enhance that as Giakoumakis prepares for his peak years in Glasgow, with a four-year deal in the pipeline.

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