Championship leaders Norwich City have announced the signing of Dimitris Giannoulis from Greek club PAOK, with the 25-year-old left-back agreeing to join the Canaries on a loan deal until the end of the season.
Daniel Farke’s side currently sit at the top of England’s second-tier with hopes of an immediate return to the Premier League, and if they are to achieve promotion, Giannoulis’ move to Norfolk will become permanent.
According to The Athletic, the deal could eventually be worth £6.2 million.
Who is Giannoulis?
Giannoulis is held in high regard in his home nation having made a successful start to his career so far.
After rising through the youth ranks at Katerini-based club Vataniakos, the left-back joined Super League Greece side PAOK in 2014. To aid his development, he was loaned out to three different clubs across Greece within his first five years at PAOK, while he also had a short loan spell at Anorthosis Famagusta in Cyprus.
At the age of 23, Giannoulis made his league debut for PAOK, and he went on to feature 12 times for them in the 2018/19 season when they won a league and cup double. Since then, he has been a mainstay in their side, and has been rewarded with several international call-ups.
He was sent off on his senior debut for Greece back in May 2018 and has made 10 international appearances since. By making this move, which could give him the opportunity to play in the English top-flight, Giannoulis has boosted his chances of continuing to compete for Greece’s left-back berth.
What now for Quintilla and Sorensen?
The signing of Giannoulis provides the Canaries with a welcome boost in the left-back position, but it also suggests that some players may find that their opportunities to start matches are more limited in the months to come.
Before losing academy graduate Jamal Lewis to Newcastle United in September, Norwich secured the signature of Xavi Quintilla on a season-long loan deal from Villarreal. The Spanish left-back played every minute of the Canaries’ first seven league matches before suffering a muscular injury which meant that he missed 13 straight games. Quintilla also experienced another setback last week when he tested positive for COVID-19 in City’s latest round of testing.
Norwich’s agreement to sign Quintilla last August included an option to make the deal permanent at the end of the loan spell, but as Giannoulis has since arrived, it appears unlikely that both players will be taken on permanently in the summer window. Ultimately, Quintilla now has a difficult job on his hands if he is to force his way into Farke’s long-term plans.
When Quintilla picked up his injury prior to City’s draw with Brentford back in October, defensive midfielder Jacob Sorensen was chosen to fill in at left-back, and the Dane has started every league match in that position since. The 22-year-old only joined the club in the summer and has been playing out of position, but he has performed excellently as Norwich have risen to the league’s summit.
It is very likely that Giannoulis will be given a run of starts at left-back once he finds his feet, but given how well Sorensen has settled in, it would be unsurprising if Farke began to utilise him in his preferred position.
The addition of Giannoulis also places some doubt over the futures of Sam Byram and Sam McCallum. Versatile full-back Byram has not played a minute for the Canaries this season due to injury, while 20-year-old McCallum is currently out on loan at Coventry City. Norwich will no doubt view the latter as a player who could develop into a first-team regular, but this signing suggests that they do not feel McCallum is at the required standard just yet.