Vasilis Barkas has had a rough time at Celtic so far.
Signed for £4.5m from AEK Athens (BBC), the Greece international has been dropped for both Scott Bain and Conor Hazard so far this season.
For arguably the most important game for Celtic this season, the Scottish Cup Final, it was youngster Hazard who was preferred. Yes, Barkas has started both Glasgow Derbies, but in European and domestic competition, Lennon has rotated the number 1 spot.
However, Barkas has received timely backing from a former team-mate. Makis Giannikoglou spent two years at AEK with the goalkeeper and has said that Celtic just need to be patient.
Lennon has decided to put his faith back in the Greek stopper, and Giannikoglou believes Celtic will reap the rewards.
Celtic goalkeeper Vasilis Barkas has “amazing talents”
In comments shared to the Daily Record, Giannikoglou was forthcoming in his praise for Barkas:
“He has amazing talents and he makes amazing saves. He is very fast across the goal.
“Vasilis had fantastic games in the Champions League. I was there in Munich when he played so well against Bayern and he was congratulated at the end of the game by Neuer.
“Some critical people are unfair on him. I’ve watched the Celtic games and the only goal I would really say Vasilis has been responsible for losing was the free-kick against AC Milan in the San Siro.”
Barkas, to be fair to him, has been forced to work behind an unsettled defence. Plenty of the goals Barkas has conceded have been as a result of poor defending from set pieces, or lapses of concentration ending in one-on-ones.
It’s not been the most auspicious start for the Greek keeper. Even prime Buffon would’ve found clean sheets hard to come by for Celtic this season.
“Sell him for more millions”
Giannikoglou insisted that if Celtic are patient, they’ll make a profit on the tall Greek international.
The Bhoys spent just under £5m on him, but fellow goalkeeper Giannikoglou, now at PAS Giannina (Transfermarkt) believes that Celtic could move Barkas on for a significant fee.
“Vasilis has all the quality and if he gets the time that every player needs to fully adapt at a new club, things will be easy for him and the club. And he will take his path to the biggest leagues.
“Celtic are a big club but you know how football is these days.
“It is sign a player, have a good time and sell him for more millions in the future.
“And Celtic will sell him for a lot of money to a bigger league in future years.”
It’s heartening to hear a friend defend Barkas like this, and we’re sure he’s well-liked. The only problem is that Barkas is running out of time with the Celtic support.
Whether they, and Neil Lennon can wait for Barkas to come good is a different question altogether.