|Is||Athlete Football player Association football player|
|Birth||14 June 1991, Naxos Island|
Kostas Manolas (Greek: Κώστας Μανωλάς, born 14 June 1991) is a Greek footballer who currently plays for Roma and the Greek national team as a defender. He is the nephew of former Greek footballer Stelios Manolas.
Manolas began his youth career at Thrasyvoulos in 2007. In 2009, Stelios Manolas, who was the AEK Athens' technical director at the time, was scouting his nephew at a youth match with AEK manager Dušan Bajević and was impressed with his performance. His uncle, Stelios Manolas, was a former player playing for AEK F.C. and former manager.
On 16 June 2009, Manolas signed a three-year deal with AEK. After signing, Manolas said, "I am very happy signing for the team I support, hopefully I can be a legend at the club like my uncle and end my career at AEK." He made his debut against AO Kavala and was named man of the match. After the game, he stated, "It's a dream to play for the club I love." Manolas was also rewarded with man of the match honours the following week against PAOK. In his first seven matches, Manolas was named man of the match in five of them.
Manolas scored his first professional goal against archrivals Olympiacos on 19 May 2010. Although he was playing with a broken jugal bone since the first minute of the match after a dangerous nudge by Kostas Mitroglou, he scored in the sixth minute, though he later left the match in the 15th minute. He refused to be taken to the hospital before the match was over, despite being urged by his uncle Stelios Manolas. The next day, he underwent a successful three-hour surgery, recovered and quickly returned to training sessions.
Manolas was a key figure for AEK Athens in the 2010–11 season, playing impressive performances in the Superleague Greece but also in the 2010–11 UEFA Europa League, which drew interest from many European teams such as Genoa, Udinese, Getafe and Schalke 04. Manolas scored a very important goal for AEK against Hajduk Split, securing the win for the Greek side. The following week, Manolas found the back of the net again, this time against AEL in the Greek Cup, which AEK would later go on to win. His impressive performances convinced then AEK Athens coach Manolo Jiménez and earned him a spot in the starting line-up, forcing Real Madrid loanee David Mateos to the substitutes' bench.
Manolas developed massively while playing alongside AEK icon and UEFA Euro 2004 winner Traianos Dellas, stating to the press, "It is an honour to play alongside such a great player like Dellas, I have developed and become a better player. His experience has helped me become confident on the ball and the decisions I make in the game. I have learned a lot from him and he is basically like a teacher to me who I look up to."
On 30 April 2011, Manolas won the first trophy of his career, the Greek Cup. He played a large role in winning the trophy and played solid throughout the match against Atromitos, where at one point he cleared an opposition shot off his line. Manolas also received man of the match honours due to his outstanding display. After the 0–3 victory, Manolas stated, "It is a dream for me to win a trophy with my childhood club AEK, and I hope there's many more to come in the future." He finished the 2010–11 season playing 36 matches, scoring three goals.
On 11 July 2011, Manolas signed a three-year contract extension with AEK, keeping him at the club until 2014. His contract was worth €900,000 earning €300,000 per-season including bonuses that could reach up to €1.4 million. Manolas renewed his contract despite interested from big European outfits Werder Bremen, Sevilla, Wolfsburg and Hamburger SV. Manolas agreed with AEK on €4 million buyout clause for foreign teams and a €10 million buyout clause for Greek teams.
Shortly after signing the contract, Manolas stated to the press, "I am extremely happy that I am going to continue playing for the team of my heart and it is an honour to wear the AEK Jersey for the next three years with my childhood club. I applaud AEK president Stavros Adamidis who believes in me and declined great offers from European teams to keep me at the club despite the huge economical problems the club is suffering. My dream now is to become the team's captain and win the league just like my uncle Stelios Manolas, who achieved this when he joined AEK."
Manolas started the season positively, playing his first competitive match of the 2011–12 season against Georgian side Dinamo Tbilisi in a 2011–12 UEFA Europa League qualifier, helping AEK to 1–0 victory. He was given heavy praise from Manolo Jiménez. Manolas scored his first goal of the season in a 0–1 away victory over Panionios. He dedicated the goal to Jiménez, who had been taking criticism in recent weeks for his team's poor performances. Manolas also scored the first goal for AEK Athens in a 1–3 away win against Austrian club Sturm Graz in the Europa League. During the January transfer period, the English Premier League's Everton showed sincere interest in the young centre back, with the team's then-manager David Moyes stating, "Manolas has huge talent and is a player for the future." On 30 January 2012, it was said that AEK and Everton had agreed on terms to sell Manolas to Everton. Manolas, however, declined the offer, as he felt he would be leaving his club in a bad situation as the club would have only had three centre backs in the squad: Traianos Dellas and two youth players Mavroudis Bougaidis and Elfar Freyr Helgason after the departure of loanee Cala, who was recalled back to his club Sevilla. AEK Chairman Stavros Adamidis stated, "It was Manolas who declined the offer, not AEK." He left AEK Athens having 85 appearances (6 goals) in all competitions.
On 1 July 2012, Manolas joined rivals Olympiacos on a free transfer until 30 June 2016 after his contract with AEK Athens had expired. "I am very happy that I'm at Olympiacos and I can't wait to play with the red and white shirt in front of a full Karaiskaki and our fans," Manolas said. At a time where AEK were struggling to pay off crippling debts, the departure of one of the club's key players came as another major blow. Ahead of the next season, AEK were only able to buy and sell Greek players up to the age of 22 and were barred from purchasing foreign players, as punishment for failing to meet the Greek Super League's financial criteria. AEK were allowed to renew the contracts of any player already at the club, whether their highest earners would be willing to remain at a club that has a history of failing to pay player wages remained to be seen. Moreover, AEK were also been banned from taking part in the Europa League that season by the Hellenic Football Federation, with their place taken by Asteras Tripoli.
Manolas made his Olympiacos debut against PAS Giannina on 15 September in a 1–2 away win, then scored his first goal for his new side against Skoda Xanthi in a 4–0 home win. Manolas made 24 appearances for Olympiacos in the league that season, helping them win the Superleague. On 11 May 2013, he played in the Greek Cup Final against Asteras Tripoli, winning 3–1 to clinch a league and cup double for the season.
Reports in Greece suggested that English clubs Tottenham Hotspur, Sunderland and Fulham were all keeping an eye on Manolas ahead of the January transfer window. According to Gazzetta.gr, Manolas had captured the attention of Premier League scouts since moving to Olympiacos on a free transfer from AEK the previous summer. It was thought that Manolas could be interested in a move to the Premier League to push his case for continued inclusion in the Greek national team manager Fernando Santos' plans, with Greece at the time in second place in their World Cup qualifying group behind Bosnia and Herzegovina. Manolas, however, was unlikely to seriously consider any move that would see his chances of first-team football jeopardised. It was also reported that then-Manchester United head coach David Moyes targeted the Olympiacos defender as a replacement for Nemanja Vidić after confirming the latter's departure from Old Trafford at the end of 2013–14 season to Internazionale, while United's other starting central defender, Rio Ferdinand, would later follow his teammate out, leaving United short of quality in central defence. Moyes would end up being sacked and rumours of a move immediately ceased.
Manolas scored his first goal for Olympiacos in the 2013–14 UEFA Champions League in a 1–0 home win against Benfica, building the foundations for the next round. He scored his second goal in the Champions League in a 2–1 away loss against Paris Saint-Germain, though nonetheless the squad secured a spot in the round of 16—the first time the club had reached the stage since 2009–10—in matchup against Manchester United. With United failing to display their usual dominant domestic form that term, Manolas thought the Greek champions had what it takes to make the Champions League quarter-finals for only the second time: "I believe we will give a good performance. I hope Manchester United will not get better than they are now, so we can defeat them." Despite winning the first leg 2–0 at home, Olympiacos fell as Manchester United's Robin van Persie hit a hat-trick in the return leg in Manchester to progress 3–2 on aggregate.
On 22 March 2014, Manolas extended his contract with Olympiacos for another year, keeping him at the club until the summer of 2017. He left Olympiakos having 73 appearances (6 goals, 2 assists) in all competitions.
On 27 August 2014, Italian Serie A side Roma announced the signing of Manolas for an estimated fee of €15 million. Upon joining Roma, Manolas said, "I had offers from several big clubs, including Juve. But it was my decision to come here to Roma. I wanted to come to Roma. Lots of people told me good things. Their advice and my decision is what brought me here. The club has big goals. I want to win the Scudetto, as does the whole squad. We can also go far in the Champions League."
On 30 August 2014, Manolas made his official debut for Roma as they beat Fiorentina 2–0 in the opening game of the 2014–15 Serie A season. On 17 September, he made his first European appearance with Roma in the Champions League as they cruised to an impressive 5–1 victory over CSKA Moscow. On 5 October, Manolas was sent off in a match against Juventus for retaliating after being fouled by Álvaro Morata, who was sent off as well. The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) subsequently banned Manolas for two games for his part in the altercation.
Manolas' impressive first year with his club garnered interest from many other European sides, including Premier League giants Arsenal, though the player's agent, Mino Raiola, said that Manolas was not interested in discussing the rumours: "Kostas is a Roma player, and anyone who wants him will have to ask the club. All I can say is the lad has a contract until 2019. Roma paid a lot for him, and that means they have a lot of expectations for him."
Manolas enjoyed an excellent first season in Serie A, cementing his place at the heart of manager Rudi García's defence as his side finished second in the league table. In the ensuing close season, Arsenal offered Roma £15 million for the player, whom they originally tried to sign last summer before being beaten by Roma. On 19 June 2015, at the end of the season, Manolas, via a Roma fan poll, was named the club's "best purchase of the season" after capturing 56% of the vote, in front of the likes of Seydou Keita (18%) and Juan Iturbe (8%).
Manolas began the 2015–16 campaign as the de facto leader of the Roma defence. According to Tuttomercatoweb, Chelsea manager José Mourinho attempted to bring the Greek international to Stamford Bridge the previous season, and will try again in the New Year, with Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur continuing their interest. On 17 September 2015, after the 1–1 home draw against 2014–15 Champions League title holders Barcelona, Manolas praised his club's tactical performance: "We played a great game on a tactical level. We've been doing well in defence, and I think it’s an important step for the team," he told Sky Sports. On 23 September, Roma's unbeaten start to the season ended after losing 2–1 away at Sampdoria, with Manolas scoring an own goal.
On 26 September, Manolas scored his first goal in the 2015–16 Serie A as Roma comfortably defeated newly promoted side Carpi 5–1. He opened the scoring after netting Lucas Digne's clever assist with his right boot besides the challenge in the box from Carpi's Gabriel Silva.
On 5 December, in a dramatic 1–1 away draw against Torino in domestic league action, Manolas brought down Andrea Belotti inside the area, whereupon Maxi López coolly converted the subsequent 94th-minute penalty kick. Despite replays suggesting the Greek defender may well have gotten the ball in the challenge, the referee nonetheless awarded the penalty. On 11 December, towards the end of a Champions League match against Belarusians BATE Borisov, Manolas engaged in a quarrel with teammate Miralem Pjanić for mishandling a ball possession. As reported by La Gazzetta dello Sport, the two players continued the fighting into the team's locker room. On 17 February 2016, in a 1st leg UEFA Champions League game for the last 16, he was the indisputable leader of the defence, despite the 2-0 home loss from the Spanish giants Real Madrid. Manolas closed down Karim Benzema quite well throughout the game. Most of the low crosses were taken care of well by him but he could do nothing about the two goals. On 20 April 2015, in a match for Serie A, Manolas scored his second goal in the season, giving an assist in a glorious home win against Torino F.C.
On 25 July 2016, Coach Luciano Spalletti has insisted that the international defender is happy at A.S. Roma and will stay at the club, despite every's summer speculations involving Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea’s interest about the Greek defender. Arsenal were so displeased by the way Roma handled the talks that they later refused to allow Jack Wilshere to go there on loan. Manolas began the 2016–17 campaign as the de facto leader of the Roma defence.
On September 2016, A.S. Roma are obliged to pay the sum of €6.5 million to Olympiakos for the international defender. Roma did not want to sell the Greek defender this summer as Olympiakos had a 50% next percentage sale until this August. Roma also rejected a bid from Arsenal in the region of €39 million for Manolas and therefore the player stayed put. Now Olympiakos will receive from Roma the fee of €6,5 million and Roma will activate the clause obtaining the 100% of the player. Manolas is considered the best marker of 'calcio' and Barcelona have been following him for a while. The Greek international has always been on a list of defenders that Barcelona have been interested in. With Thomas Vermaelen's loan to Roma they received an option to buy on Manolas at the summer of 2017. On 2 October 2016, he scored the second goal sealing a 2-1 home win against rivals Inter, as well as made the Inter captain Mauro Icardi disappear. On 18 October 2016, Manolas rejected A.S. Roma's proposal on the extension of his contract, which expires in 2019, despite the fact that the management was ready to raise the salary of the Greek centre back from €1.8 million to €2.5 million per year. According to the newspapers sources, the 25-year-old international player saw that had almost 12 players with higher salary than his and now expects an improved offer. On 23 October 2016 Kostas Manolas reached 100 appearances with the jersey of A.S. Roma, in a 4-1 home win Serie A game against Palermo. On 31 October 2016, Manolas will be out for a couple of games after breaking his nose in AS Roma's 0-0 away draw against Empoli, in a game where the Greek defender simply covered every possible hole. The Greek defender will miss a Europa League clash against FK Austria Wien and Serie A match with Bologna at the Olimpico, the Giallorossi said. On 4 December 2016, in one of the most spectacular Roman derbies in history, Manolas showed the usual ability both in anticipating and blocking his opponents, giving Balde Diao Keita and Ciro Immobile a very difficult afternoon. On 13 December 2016, Roma’s center-back trio had an amazing performance, especially Manolas and Federico Fazio who combined 15 clearances, 11 interceptions and won 12 duels. Manolas’ impact surpassed just defensive duties as he assisted for Radja Nainggolan’s 1-0 winner against A.C. Milan. On 18 December 2016, Manolas according to doctors' report, will be out for around two weeks after picking up another injury in Roma’s 1-0 defeat to Juventus. Manolas was forced off in the latter stages at Juventus Stadium, and he will now miss Roma’s match against Chievo, the defender having already been struck down with a broken nose and muscle strain this season. On 8 January 2017, he returned to the squad playing as a late substitute in a 1-0 away win against Genoa. On 25 May 2017, a week before the end of the season, Manolas and Diego Perotti came a step away from putting their hands on them during training. To avoid the worst, only the provisional intervention of teammates,along with the Luciano Spalletti's decision to send them in the dressing room, without even finishing the training, helped to lower the tension.
Despite the possible move to FC Zenit, followed his teammate Leandro Paredes, during the summer of 2017 that lasted almost two weeks , Manolas started the 2017-18 season from the same spot he finished the 2016-17 season, as a starter.
Following a continued stretch of form from Manolas, former Greek national team manager Otto Rehhagel called Manolas up for the 30-man provisional World Cup squad for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, though he failed to make the final 23-man squad. Manolas would wait roughly three more years before eventually making his international debut against Switzerland in a friendly. Leading up to the 2014 World Cup, Manolas' strong 2013–14 season with Olympiacos earned him a spot in manager Fernando Santos' final 23-man squad for the tournament. It was in Brazil where the centre-back really caught the attention of the watching world, with a string of imperious displays that carried Greece into the knockout stages of the tournament for the first time in its history. He was named by The Independent as being among the 50 best players at the World Cup as the Greeks ultimately fell to Costa Rica.
On 9 June 2017, AS Roma teammates Edin Dzeko and Manolas came to blows during an ugly brawl in World Cup qualifier game between Bosnia-Herzegovina and Greece. The game ended 0-0 and descended into chaos after the final whistle, when numerous players and members of staff clashed.
Style of play
Manolas possesses the speed to keep track of smaller, quicker attackers while also possessing the strength needed to battle with more physical opponents. Without the ball, he is both assertive and attentive, never neglecting his defensive duties and always keen for a challenge. He is also a deceptively quick footballer, given his size, able to sweep up behind a high-line but also having the versatility and discipline to play deeper. Few players better combine the virtues of an old-fashioned centre-half with the modern need to build play from the back.
- As of match played 16 September 2017
(* Includes UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League)
- Greek Cup (1): 2010–11
- Superleague Greece (2): 2012–13, 2013–14
- Greek Cup (1): 2012–13