Karelis joins PAOK
PAOK FC announce they have signed Nikos Karelis on loan from KRC Genk, the deal including a buy-out option at the end of the season. The Greek international forward will sport the No11 shirt.
Nikos Karelis was born in Heraklion, Crete, on 24 February 1992. He was introduced to football by his father, who took him to Ergotelis’ academy at the age of 6.
He joined the senior team trainings when he was 14 years old and, a year later, he penned his first professional contract. On 20 April 2008, he made his professional debut coming off the bench in an encounter against Xanthi, becoming the youngest player ever to play for Ergotelis.
Arsenal expressed their interest to sign him. They tried him out for 10 days, gave him the opportunity to feature in a tournament in Italy, but he had already signed a contract for the Cretan side, so the move didn’t go through and he remained in Heraklion.
He spent the following four seasons in Crete, totaling 31 matches and a goal from the spot against Panserraikos. In 2012-13, he moved to Russia for Amkar Perm. He played 10 matches but didn’t score.
Panathinaikos decided to pay 100.000 euros to bring him back to Greece –and it was money well spent. In his first season with the Greens, he made his way to the starting line-ups almost immediately and featured in 41 encounters, with 8 goals and as many assists to his name. On the following season, his tally was even more impressive: 50 appearances, 19 goals and 4 assists, making him one of Greece’s finest forwards, able to feature in all attacking positions.
He started great in 2015-16, scoring 9 times and serving 5 assists in 22 games for Panathinaikos, however the club’s dire financial situation led him to the exit door.
KRC Genk paid 2,5 million euros to acquire him and they started recuperating their investment right from the player’s debut. Genk were facing Zulte Waregem and, a quarter before the end, they were stuck in a 1-1 draw with one player down. Karelis was introduced in the 77th minute and, 11 minutes later, netted the winner. Until the end of the season, he scored 10 more goals and served two assists in a total of 20 encounters.
The following year started splendidly. In 32 appearances, Karelis scored 18 goals and everything suggested he would break the 20-goal barrier. But he had no luck. On 27 December 2016, in a home game against KAA Gent, Karelis scored from the penalty spot but later, just after the interval, he sustained a cruciate ligament injury in the left knee.
He didn’t lose heart though and, ten months later, he returned to action. Last season he featured in 22 encounters, scored 4 goals and provided as many assists.
On an international level, Karelis made his way through all Greek national youth sides with excellent tallies. He earned his first cap for the senior Greek team under Claudio Ranieri and has already 18 caps and 3 goals to his name.
This summer he followed Genk’s preseason summer training, played in a UEFA Europa League qualifier against Fola Esch of Luxembourg, but he wasn’t included in coach Philippe Clement’s plans.
On the last day of the summer transfer window PAOK managed to reach a deal with Genk and Karelis and bring the Greek forward in Thessaloniki.