A season of wonder: Georgios Giakoumakis

Georgios Giakoumakis. 12 months ago, the majority of the European football lover wouldn’t have heard of this Greek striker, but one remarkable season at VVV-Venlo changed a lot for Giakoumakis. He is looking for a new club after VVV-Venlo got relegated and the question for clubs is: is he such a good striker or is it a one-season wonder?

In this article I will attempt to give an answer to that question, using my personal experience and knowledge of him whilst working at VVV-Venlo, using data and using video – to give a more complete idea of what he is capable of and what he can bring to any team contracting him for the 2021/2022 season.

Georgios Giakoumakis

  • Nationality: Greek
  • Age: 26
  • Date of birth: 09/12/1994
  • Current club: VVV-Venlo
  • Career: Platanias, Episkopi (L), Platanias, AEK Athens, OFI Kreta (L), AEK Athens, Gornik Zabrze (L), AEK Athens, VVV-Venlo
  • Market value Transfermarkt: 2.500.000,-
  • Position: Striker
  • Secondary position: None
  • Preferred foot: Right

Before coming to VVV-Venlo, Giakoumakis wasn’t known to be the best striker in the game or even remotely close to being a steal, like he turnt out to be. He had potential at AEK Athens, but only showed glimps from what he could do, when he was in Poland with Gornik Zabrze and that’s where I received my first task to scout him.

If you solely focus on the data you wouldn’t be impressed with his record up to the 2019/2020 season, but it’s all about having a profile and then looking at certain players. VVV-Venlo wanted a strong striker, who’s link-up play is good, does have eye for his team mates – but is selfish enough to try and get 10+ goals in a season. A player who can play well in the counter-attack and doesn’t refrain from playing deeper on the pitch enable wingers to make runs down the line. This was where Giakoumakis did fit well and we know what the 2020/2021 season has been like for the Greek player personally.

With 26 goals in the Eredivisie in 29 games, he really had a marvelous season with VVV-Venlo – although the club was relegated ultimately. What does 26 goals in this division mean? And is it easier to score with a relegation side or a top side? Those questions I will attempt to answer.

Data

In the data I’ve collected from Wyscout, I’ve looked at several different leagues. Obviously the Dutch Eredivisie, but also had a look at the Belgian, Scottish, Austrian, and Portuguese leagues. I’ve selected strikers in the 2020/2021 season with a minimum of 900 minutes played, so that’s a representative data analysis.

The reason why I haven’t included top 5 leagues or second divisions from those countries is that I wanted to assess how well I striker of that league can be or become in terms of making transitions to better leagues.

In the graph above you can see the shot volume (shots per 90) vs shots on target in %. This tells us how many times a player has had a shot per 90 and how many percentages of those shots were targeted at goal. In both metrics, Giakoumakis scores quite high – higher than the average. He has 2,95 shots per 90 and of those shots 51,49% actually are on target.

In the graph above you can see the shot volume (shots per 90) vs expected goals This tells us how many times a player has had a shot per 90 and how likely it was that a particular chance was scored. In both metrics, Giakoumakis scores quite high – higher than the average. He has 2,95 shots per 90 and with that came an expected goal number of 0,69.

We have looked at the primary stats for strikers: his shots and the probability of scoring a goal from a specific chance. In the graph below you see a bee swarm plot. With this particular plot, you can see how well Giakoumakis does compared to his peers in this dataset.

As you can see in the image above, Giakoumakis does extremely well in the shooting stats and he is one of the top players in our data frame. When we look at the expected assists and assists metrics, we can see he is much lower on the rankings and his decisiveness comes from shooting, not from passing the ball.

From the purely statistical approach, we will no venture into the magnificent world that is known as video analysis. In the videos below I will have a look at key passes, shots from outside the box, assists, and goals.

Key passes

In the video above we see VVV-Venlo in their game against Fortuna Sittard, with VVV-Venlo attacking from right to left. Giakoumakis runs into space on the right flank, as VVV is playing with two strikers. He gets the ball on thr right flank and manages the cross the ball to a progressing team mate in the penalty box, instead of being in the penalty box himself.

Giakoumakis is often at the receiving end of a through pass, but in the video above you can see him looking to give a through pass. Giakoumakis gets the ball outside the penalty area and is looking for a team mate to pass the ball, as he is marked very tight. In the end he gives a through ball, although it’s not a very effective ball as the ball is hard to control.

Shots outside the box

In the video above we see VVV-Venlo in their game away against Ajax, which is not one of the games for Giakoumakis to shine, but he choses to take on every opportunity he gets. This is also the case with his attempt outside the box, which in this case is not troubling the keeper.

In the video above we see VVV-Venlo in their cupgame against NEC Eindhoven, where Giakoumakis tries to make the most of a cross that lands behind him. He wants to convert every ball into an attempt on goal and his bicycle kick is amusing, but not very fruitful.

In the video above you can see VVV-Venlo in their game against Willem II. On contrary to the previous attempts as shown above, this example shows that Giakoumakis has the ability to convert a ball into a goal from outside the box. Machach gets the ball to him just a few meters before the box, and the Greek has a perfect first touch which sets him up nicely to guide the ball past the Willem II goalkeeper.

Assists

In the video above we see one of the two assists, Giakoumakis has given this season. In the home game against FC Utrecht, he occupied the space on the left flank and was holding the ball until he saw an opportunity to pass it. He acknowledged the run from Hupperts, gave the ball with the outside of the boot and it was timed correctly, resulting in a goal for VVV-Venlo.

The other assists came in the cupgame against NEC Nijmegen. Giakoumakis doesn’t give many assists, but he is wel l capable of executing passes that create opportunities, such as you can see in this game. He has the ball waits for the run of his team mate to be correct, and then passes the ball.

Goals

In the video above you see all of Giakoumakis’ goals in the Eredivisie 2020/2021 for VVV-Venlo. He scored 4 times in a game, twice, but he has been a big part of the goals for VVV-Venlo in this season. He scored 26 times with an xG of 21,32 – meaning that he overperformed xG. It was expected that he would score 21,32 or 22 goals. He did better than that by 4 goals. He did extremely well and has definitely deserved to be topscorer of the Eredivisie, but it’s even more remarkable if you look at the level of the club he played for.

Strawberries grow¬†underneath nettle plants, and berries grow best when they’re planted next to inferior fruit – William Shakespeara

So what does a Shakespeare quote got to do with football and Giakoumakis? Well, it’s time to attempt to answer the question: where do we place this remarkable season and how good is Giakoumakis really? Is he good enough to be a starter for a top 5 league side? In my opinion, he is not. That doesn’t mean he can’t grow and perhaps become one. It’s not for nothing that he hasn’t been very successful until now, but he has been given minutes at a big club in Greece with minutes in all domestic leagues, as well as the Europe League and Champions League – so the potential is very much there.

He has worked on his headers a lot this season and his all-round game has very much improved. And perhaps going to a side that lacks quality and away from the pressure of a big club, has done the player well. Maybe he has grown the best because of the lack of quality, he was given the confidence and he was very important. He benefited from the situation and has shown himself to be a very good player in a pretty good league.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed seeing him play this season and I sincerely hope that he goes to a league where he can shine, is taken care of and can demonstrate his abilities in transition. Perhaps if he continues to grow in the next 2 years, he might have a shot at the top 5 leagues.

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