'That's my dream' - Giannoulis hopes his style will boost City's promotion hopes
- Credit: Norwich City/Matthew Usher
Dimitris Giannoulis hopes his attacking style will boost Norwich City's promotion push and help to realise his Premier League dream.
The Greek international left-back joined the Canaries on loan from PAOK Salonika, with a view to the deal becoming permanent for around £6million if promotion is secured, but had to wait a week for his work permit to be confirmed.
With the formalities completed the 25-year-old can get stuck into training for a few days ahead of Saturday's home Championship clash with Middlesbrough, as he competes with Xavi Quintilla and Jacob Sorensen for the starting role at left-back.
“I’m a left-back, I’m a fast player," Giannoulis explained. "I like to attack and I’m fast and good in defence when it is needed.”
Having returned from 18 months on loan at Atromitos Athens midway through 2018-19 to help seal PAOK's league and cup double, he became an established force, with a goal and four assists to his name from 20 games so far this season.
That included Champions League qualification action at the start of this campaign, setting up one goal as Besiktas were beaten 3-1 in the second round and scoring one and setting up the other as Benfica were beaten 2-1. However, PAOK stumbled at the last hurdle as they lost 4-2 on aggregate to Russian side Krasnodar in September to miss out on the group stages.
That led to the Europa League group stages instead but despite beating eventual Group E winners PSV Eindhoven 4-1 in Greece, defeat in Holland as well as draws with Granada and Omonia Nikosia and a shock 2-1 loss to the Cypriot minnows led to elimination.
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He leaves PAOK with 18 months remaining on his contract and with his parent club fourth in the Greek Super League. As well as City offering a route to the Premier League, Giannoulis hopes he will fit into Daniel Farke's attacking style of play.
“I like this style of football and I hope I adapt to the way we play and can help the team to get promoted," he said.
“It was the biggest reason I am here – to help the team get promoted and to play in the Premier League. That’s my dream and this will happen, maybe.”
Giannoulis has already started three matches for PAOK this month, the most recent of which was a 1-1 home draw with Olympiacos on January 13, so the left-back is hoping he can hit the ground running.
He admits he didn't know a great deal about the Canaries before his possible move emerged but says he likes what he saw, including the impressive new facilities at the Lotus Training Centre.
“Last season I watched most of the games (in the Premier League) but this season it is difficult in Greece to watch the Championship, so not one game," Giannoulis continued.
“I know it’s a big club and that people here are very professional, I saw some videos of the training centre and all of this stuff – and I felt like I had to come here.”
He becomes City's first Greek player and has won 11 caps for his country since making his senior debut in May 2018.
One of those appearances brought him up against one of the Canaries' star players, top scorer Teemu Pukki, as Greece beat Finland 2-1 in Athens in November 2019 in European Championship qualification - just a few days after the Finns had wrapped up qualification.
Giannoulis started that night, with Pukki on target for the visitors, and had also been an unused substitute for two Nations League games against Finland in 2018.
“I know some of the players but not personally," he added, speaking to City's official YouTube channel. "I know Teemu Pukki, we played against him in the Nations League, against Finland.
“He is the most dangerous player for Finland so we kept an eye on him, he is a top player and it is nice to play in the same team as him.”
Greece didn't qualify for the Euros but start World Cup qualification in March, after being drawn in a group with Spain, Sweden, Kosovo and Georgia.
For now though, Giannoulis is just keen to start the next chapter of his story, saying: “I’m really happy to be here, it was a dream to play for an English team and now that it’s true, I will give my best.”