You’d have to say Kostas Tsimikas is the least high profile £10m+ transfer in Liverpool’s history.
When we bought the Greek left-back in the summer of 2020, our first purchase as Premier League champions, there was a bit of YouTubing, a bit of Googling, and then a collective pause – because really, how excited can you get about a backup left-back?
Tsimikas enjoyed a decent pre-season that year, featuring regularly, although the most memorable moment was James Milner giving him a sweary telling off for missing an overlapping run which the pitch-side mics picked up.
Milner clearly isn’t afraid of telling his team-mate how it is, as he was filmed slapping Tsimikas in this season’s opener against Norwich after he dallied on the ball and presented the Canaries a chance!
Fans were nervous about Tsimikas’s involvement this term because of two factors. Firstly, Andy Robertson is arguably the best on the planet at left-back and not having him in the side weakens Liverpool, presumably. And secondly, because Tsimikas barely got a kick last season, playing two Premier League matches only, and just seven overall – most of which came from the bench. Part of this reason was because he got unlucky with injuries, but he didn’t impress when selected either and there was a concern we’d signed a dud.
However, that anxiety towards the relatively unknown former Olympiakos star has turned to trust, following eight appearances this season in which he’s barely put a foot wrong.
Tsimikas got the nod for last night’s Atletico Madrid win, and looked every bit like a cultured, experienced Champions League defender. Up against the competition’s nastiest and most physical side, Kostas battled, worked tirelessly and provided a thrust down the left that if anything, Robertson has failed to consistently deliver this term.
The Scot has been deeper and less offensively threatening, perhaps still in the habit of covering for our often bizarre central defensive partnerships from last season – in which he had to control his natural desire to bomb on.
But it could also be because he simply needs a little break. Robertson has played ferociously and consistently for the past three seasons – in which he’s made 150-odd club appearances – before mentioning the fact he plays every minute as Scotland captain as well.
Thankfully, with Tsimikas now up and running, Jurgen Klopp can give Robbo some of the rest he might need without fear of the replacement not being up to scratch – something we’re still dealing with in other areas of the pitch.
Stylistically, Tsimikas is perfect for Klopp’s Reds. He’s clearly got a great engine and is happy in both halves, even if he’s probably still a better attacker than defender. In fairness, this hasn’t necessarily cost us at the back – as his brilliant stats from the campaign so far proves:
Love him! 🇬🇷 pic.twitter.com/Z05pJNhlTg
— Jordan Chamberlain (@Jordan_AC90) November 4, 2021
Tsimikas has a wicked left-foot and his crossing genuinely rivals Robertson’s. There was a moment in the first-half v Atleti when he and Trent Alexander-Arnold stood over a dead-ball, with the left-back taking it. That shows his status in the squad – getting the nod over the world’s best crosser.
Klopp has shown on many occasions that he lets new signings gel in to the environment and tactical demands via intensive work on the training ground before he throws them in, but never before has someone not played for 12 months and then been brought to the forefront. Fabinho and Robertson were in the side by the Christmas of their first seasons.
Tsimikas’s on-pitch contribution has become increasingly positive, but he’s clearly a very well-liked member of the squad, too. Perhaps unpredictably, he immediately became Mo Salah’s best friend upon Dejan Lovren’s departure – with the pair inseparable ever since. And anything that keeps Mo happy should keep all Reds smiling. His recent stealing of Salah’s Manchester United hat-trick match-ball was hilarious – and he often uses social media to laud his Egyptian pal in a genuinely funny, self-deprecating manner. It’s not often footballers, most of whom use teams to run their social media channels, find a way to entertain and connect with fans like Tsimikas does.
He hashtags all his posts, #GreekScouser, which is brilliant – and is another reason why he might just be on his way to cult-hero status. The fact he often looks like he’s on the back of a two-day bender, yet still manages to run like an Olympic Marathoner, adds to this!
Now, if there was a Champions League Final tomorrow, or a must-win Premier League clash, I’d go with Robbo every time. He’s tried and tested. He’s the best. And he’ll be with us for many more seasons to come. But having Tsimikas pushing him for minutes is a brilliant thing.
It took a while to notice, but Liverpool really nailed it with this piece of recruitment. Tsimikas is happy to rotate, provides exactly the attributes required from a Klopp left-back and is loved by all his team-mates – and now – us fans too!
Let’s just get a ‘Tsimikas’ in as backup right-back, centre-mid, up top and we’ll be laughing.