Midfielder Priortises Staying In Greece Amid Southampton Interest: Big Blow For The Saints?

Omar Elabdellaoui of Norway reacts during a UEFA Nations League football match Slovenia against Norway at Stadium Stozice in Ljubljana on November 16, 2018. (JURE MAKOVEC/AFP/Getty Images)

According to a recent report by the Greek media outlet Sdna, Omar Elabdellaoui’s priority is to extend his stay at Olympiakos beyond this summer amid interest from a host of clubs including Southampton. The same source has also revealed that the Norwegian full-back wants a new contract worth €1.5m per year and is making progress in terms of reaching an agreement with the Greek club. However, both parties are yet to come to a compromise which means that there is still a glimmer of hope for the Saints to land him when his deal at the Karaiskakis Stadium expires at the end of this campaign (via Sdna).

Elabdellaoui’s Sensational Season With Olympiakos

The 28-year-old has enjoyed an impressive season in Greek football after putting in several reliable defensive displays under Pedro Martins’ stewardship so far. He has netted one goal in 38 matches for Olympiakos this term in all competitions.

Elabdellaoui has managed to catch the eye with his performances in Europe this season. He has averaged 0.8 tackles, 1.0 interceptions and 2.2 clearances per game in the six UEFA Champions League matches he has featured this season (stats via whoscored). His incredible contributions have helped the Greek club build a healthy seven-point gap at the top of the Super League standings.

The Oslo-born talent also put in two outstanding showings against Arsenal in the UEFA Europa League and managed to knock the Gunners out of the competition via the away goals rule after the tie ended with both teams locked in a 2-2 aggregate scoreline.

Captain Omar Elabdellaoui of Norway during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier between Germany and Norway at Mercedes-Benz Arena on September 4, 2017, in Stuttgart, Baden-Wuerttemberg. (Photo by Trond Tandberg/Getty Images)

What Are The Norwegian Full-Back’s Strengths And Weaknesses?

Elabdellaoui is a quick and agile defender who can put in a tireless shift down the right flank. He has completed 87.9% of his attempted passes in the Europa League this season which goes to show that he hardly gives away the ball even when the spotlight is on him (stats via whoscored). The Norwegian right-back can read the danger swiftly and can pull off some vital last-gasp clearances for his side. However, he can be a bit vulnerable in the air as he is not strong enough to win aerial duels with the opposition.

Elabdellaoui Hoping To Extend His Stay In Greece: Huge Blow For Hasenhuttl?

Elabdellaoui would likely struggle in the Premier League if he ever decides to move to England. At the same time, his reluctance to leave Olympiakos will be a big blow for the Saints and their chances of landing him as a free agent this summer. Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhüttl has often switched between Yan Valery and Kyle Walker-Peters, who is on loan from Tottenham Hotspur, in recent weeks. He has also used James Ward-Prowse as a makeshift right-back in specific matches this season.

However, none of them has managed to find consistency with their performances down the right flank, which is a worry for Hasenhuttl heading into the business end of this campaign. If the South-coast club can manage to avoid relegation this season, then they should consider recruiting a quality right-back in the off-season. What will hurt the Saints is not the possibility of Elabdellaoui staying in Greece but the fact that he could have been a cheap and low-risk option for them this summer.

A 26-year-old sports writer and an aspiring football coach who has road-tripped across the Scottish Highlands, but has never been to Wales. Sucker for cliff-hangers and catchy riffs. Known to be a grunger and not to be a stranger.