To say Dimitrios Konstantopoulos has had an interesting and varied career, would be an understatement. From Greek football, via Farense in Portugal, the goalkeeper found his way to English football in 2003, thanks to a trial with Hartlepool.
After over 100 games for the club, Konstantopoulos signed for Coventry but was sent out on loan numerous times, before returning to the Greek Super League. Following the relegation of his club, AEK Athens, Konstantopoulos was released and in August 2013, he signed a short term deal with Boro. The rest, as they say, is history.
Konstantopoulos was forced to wait until January 2014 to make his debut and when Shay Given returned to Aston Villa, was made Boro’s number one by Aitor Karanka. A new one-year deal followed and this was extended in February 2015. During the successful 2015/16 promotion winning campaign, Konstantopoulos set a new club record, by keeping 22 clean sheets.
However, despite establishing himself as Boro’s number one and setting a club record, many people around the club are questioning the Greek’s suitability for the Premier League next season.
If you ask Cardiff City fans if they think Konstantopoulos will do well in the Premier League, the short answer would be ‘no’. The Greek endured a torrid spell at the Welsh club, making mistakes which cost points. In the Premier League, for a newly promoted club, every point is crucial and basic errors are not acceptable.
Age is certainly against Konstantopoulos, who will turn 38 during November and this, as things stand, would make him the oldest goalkeeper in the Premier League. There is nothing wrong with that, if performances are good but with age, comes the increased risk of injury. Therefore, it’s wise to have a quality replacement but not only that, competition for places is also good, for any player.
By bringing in a new goalkeeper from a list of wagering sites for football, it doesn’t mean Konstantopoulos will immediately be dropped from the starting XI. With the likes of Republic of Ireland international, Keiren Westwood and Dutch international, Kenneth Vermeer being linked, it’s very likely a new keeper will be joining Boro this summer. Both players are good but they are not instant replacements for Konstantopoulos.
It’s a difficult choice for a manager, when trying to decide whether to stay loyal with a player, who has performed well for you at one level of football but may not be able to cut it at the next level up.
The right decision, has to be to go with the man who is in the best form. Yes, bring in an additional goalkeeper, such as Westwood and then see how the players train. If Konstantopoulos is clearly performing below the level of the new arrival, it’s not a time to be sentimental, the new keeper has to start. However, if the new keeper is not showing anything above and beyond what Konstantopoulos has to offer, then stick with the Greek.
The Premier League does not reward a manager for being loyal to a player, who cannot perform at the required level. If a superior goalkeeper can be brought in to the club and the money is right, then it has to be done. It’s as simple as that.