Giannoulis knows all about reported Canaries target Tzolis
- Credit: PA
Christos Tzolis is a player that Norwich City left-back Dimitris Giannoulis knows all about, after impressing alongside the talented youngster during Championship League qualifying at the start of last season.
The 19-year-old has been a hot topic of conversation among Canaries supporters this week after news of City's interest in the PAOK winger emerged.
Those reports included Football Insider claiming Norwich were interested in a deal at around the £10million mark and Greek journalists also claiming talks between the clubs have opened.
Our understanding is that the Canaries have been monitoring Tzolis' impressive development but that reports of a bid are premature, although City are keen to bring in another winger with a month of the transfer window remaining.
The teen was pictured in training with PAOK in Thessalonica on Thursday on his club's official website, after returning from a training camp in Holland which concluded with a 2-1 win over Feyenoord on Sunday, with Tzolis playing the opening half and scoring the equalising penalty.
That spot-kick was won by former Norwich striker Nelson Oliveira, who joined PAOK on a free transfer from AEK Athens this summer after 26 goals in 70 games during the two seasons since he left City.
PAOK are preparing for their first competitive games, against Irish side Bohemians across two legs in the third round of qualifying for the Europa Conference League, with the first leg in Ireland on Tuesday.
The Salonica club have dealt with City this year, after seeing the January loan of Giannoulis made permanent following the Canaries' promotion to the Premier League, for around £6million.
Prior to that loan switch, the left-back had been enjoying linking up with Tzolis on the left for the Greek side, including a particularly memorable start to the 2020-21 campaign.
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Giannoulis crossed for the youngster to open the scoring against Besiktas in Champions League qualification and Tzolis also scored the second and set up the third in a 3-1 home win.
Then it was Giannoulis who was the star of the show as Portuguese giants Benfica were beaten 2-1, with a goal and an assist, only for a disappointing 4-2 aggregate defeat to Russian side Krasnodar to deny PAOK a place in the Champions League group stages.
That meant Europa League football, with Tzolis claiming three goals and two assists as PAOK failed to reach the knockout stages, beating PSV Eindhoven 4-1 in Greece, drawing twice with Grenada but losing and drawing with Cypriot side Omonia Nikosia. to finish third in the group.
Giannoulis had also set up Tzolis for a goal in just his second appearance in the first team, in June 2020, becoming the second-youngest scorer in PAOK history when he scored against OFI Crete as an 18-year-old.
In total the duo made 28 appearances as teammates and also both started on the left for Greece in March, during a 1-1 home draw with Georgia in World Cup qualification.
Giannoulis embarked on his English adventure in January, having been part of the 2019 league and cup double triumph with PAOK and Tzolis continued making waves, finishing the season with 16 goals and 10 assists in 46 games.
He was voted Player of the Season by fans and was also runner-up in the vote for the club's Goal of the Season, being linked with Borussia Dortmund and Manchester United by The Sun in February, with a value of around £17m suggested.
Last month he was also included among the young players in contention for the prestigious Golden Boy award, previously won by players including Erling Haaland, Kylian Mbappe and Raheem Sterling. City right-back Max Aarons was nominated in 2020.
On PAOK's official website Tzolis' style is described as: "An explosive forward with an extremely good eye for goal, Tzolis is versatile, good with both feet, and has been playing on the flanks for the last few years, where he also stands out for his creativity and the ease with which he can produce individual moments of class."
With eight international caps to his name already as well, it's been a rapid rise to stardom for Tzolis, talking to his club's website in February about his exciting breakthrough season.
"At the start of the season there is no way I was expecting such figures," he said. "My aim was to try and get as much playing time as possible with the team. I played in virtually all of the games, and I’m very happy about that.
"I would like to thanks the coaches for believing in me. And for the goals, I’d like to thank my teammates for all the assists."
Tzolis signed a new contract in September to extend terms until 2024.