Chris Paraskevas Provides Expert Opinion On Charis Mavrias

Richard Heathcote

As a move for Charis Mavrias appears to be back on, we spoke to Greek football expert Chris Paraskevas about the young winger to see what he'll bring to the table at Sunderland.

What can you tell us about Mavrias' best position and his key strengths?

Chris Paraskevas: Charis Mavrias is probably closer to an inside forward than a traditional winger, from what I've seen of him. I say that because rather than hit the by-line at pace, he's a player who seems to enjoy cutting inside and dictating the pace of the game by utilizing his greatest strength, which I think is his passing. The young man really knows how to thread the needle and is an intelligent footballer. His other biggest strength is his touch and close control, both of which are excellent - the ball really seems to stick to his feet, even when he moves at pace, of which he has plenty.

Are there any weaknesses to his game?

CP: Honestly, I probably haven't seen enough of him to point out any recurring weaknesses, other than the fact that his goal-scoring record at club level isn't the greatest. From what I've seen of him he does have a habit of missing some rather guilt-edged chances at times, which is a part of his game he'll definitely need to work on, seeing as how wide players in modern football especially are expected to score goals as much as they are to provide them.

Despite being just 19-years old he seems to have a fair bit of experience in league and European competition for Panathinaikos. Can you see him competing for a first team place at Sunderland?

CP: Will he compete at Sunderland for a first-team place? Being a Newcastle fan (did I say that out loud?), I've seen enough of Sunderland to be able to tell you that over the past couple of seasons they really haven't got things right in terms of players out wide (even Adam Johnson struggled for the most part of last year). In that respect, Mavrias starts with the advantage of playing in a position where Sunderland need something a little different. Mavrias isn't your typical winger, as I've said before, and is also a hard worker, which Di Canio will love. But the acquisition of Giaccherini logically sees him fall further down the pecking order. For me, he'll really need to hit the ground running in pre-season and adapt quickly to the pace of the English game - otherwise I can see him being loaned out in January if things don't work out...

And in the future, just how good can become?

CP: The boy has loads of talent, of that there's no doubt. He reminds me of a certain other young Greek prospect, Sotiris Ninis, though the latter made the mistake of staying in Greece for far too long before he moved abroad. English football has been kind to Greek footballers over the past decade or two (Dabizas, Stelios, Zagorakis, Kyrgiakos) and the facilities and environment are all there for Mavrias' development - to see a Greek player head to England at his tender age is very exciting and I think Sunderland fans should be excited as well.

Is this view of him shared amongst the Greek football supporting community?

CP: Mavrias is part of a very exciting crop of Greek youngsters who made the U-19 European Championship final last season and performed admirably at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey (though he missed out on the latter through injury). All of those players, including Mavrias - who has broken into the first-team at one of Greece's biggest clubs - are regarded to have a very bright future in the game.

How have these expectations impacted on the way his impending transfer is perceived amongst the Greek public and media? Are Sunderland viewed as a good club for him?

CP: Honestly, I get the sense that everyone sees this move as a win-win situation, for Panathinaikos, player and Sunderland. Panathinaikos are in a perilous financial state and really need the cash from his move in order to fund a rebuilding of their own squad. Having seen the detrimental effect staying in Greece had on Ninis' career, most people - player included - appear keen to see a young Greek in the English Premier League, rather than rotting away in the Greek Super League. Panathinaikos are also wise to cashing in on a player while his market value is highest (after all, there's no telling what 12 months will do). Sunderland, for their part, aren't forking out a ridiculous amount of money and this is a low-risk move on their part.

Thanks to Chris for taking the time give a generally glowing report of Charis Mavrias. For all things Greek football, head to http://www.footballhellas.com HERE. Follow their Twitter page @FootballHellas HERE and head over to Chris' personal Twitter account (don't let his black and white leanings put you off!) @Cparaskevas HERE.

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