Name: Kyriakos Papadopoulos
Club: Bayer Leverkusen
It is a testament to Kyriakos Papadopoulos’ ability and reputation that Bayer Leverkusen turned his loan move into a permanent one this season, despite the player spending a large portion of his time at the BayArena on the treatment tables.
Leverkusen paid fellow Bundesliga club Schalke €6.5 million to permanently secure the services of the Greece international, who has signed a 5-year contract. In spite of his injury problems during the 2014-15 campaign, Liverpool and Atletico Madrid continued to be heavily linked with the defender.
Indeed, Papadopoulos is a known favourite of Brendan Rodgers and this is a reflection of the technical ability and intelligence the 23 year-old possesses.
Having attracted the attention of foreign clubs whilst at Olympiacos, it wasn’t long before Schalke acquired Papadopoulos and he began repaying the club’s faith immediately with a string of impressive early displays.
Quickly establishing himself as a key player at the club despite his youth, Papadopoulos made the seamless transition to UEFA Champions League football and was immense during Greece’s Euro 2012 campaign.
Unfortunately for the talented centre-back, injury ruled him out of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and slowed what has thus far been a meteoric rise.
In terms of playing style, Papadopoulos’ strength lies in his ability to combine technical competence with aggression: his bullish approach to tackling and aerial duels makes him an asset for whichever side he plays in.
Papadopoulos has also developed into a natural leader and inspiring dressing room figure by virtue of his style of play and confidence. His absence has been keenly felt during Greece’s current Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, during which the former European champions have struggled badly.
Still only 23 and having endured one of the most frustrating seasons of his career, Leverkusen have shown a great deal of faith in one of European football’s most exciting prospects. The coming campaign will be a great test of Papadopoulos’ resilience and determination.
Written by Chris Paraskevas
Follow Chris on Twitter @Cparaskevas
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