Signed from Kaiserslautern in the summer of 2014, Kostas Fortounis has impressed with the Greek giants and looks to be one to watch at the Emirates.
In the summer of 2012, Kostas Fortounis was at something of a crossroads in his early footballing career.
Signed by Bundesliga side Kaiserslautern in 2011 having impressed with Asteras Tripolis in his homeland of Greece, the attacking midfielder had moved to Germany with dreams of making an impact in the Bundesliga.
But his debut season with the club had been a disaster, with the Red Devils finishing bottom, some 13 points from safety.
No-one could criticise Fortounis for a lack of effort, though.
In 30 league appearances that season, the 19-year-old had shown plenty of attacking verve in the otherwise hapless Kaiserslautern side.
Quick, intelligent on the ball and capable of contributing goals and assists, he was emerging as one of Greek football’s brightest young talents.
Usually deployed on the wings, where he was known for his explosive runs and notable trickery, his displays soon caught the eye of Greece manager Fernando Santos, who included the youngster in his squad for Euro 2012.
Soon enough, and with a drop down to the Bundesliga.2 pending, the offers came in.
Ajax were rumoured to be keen on the winger, while Juventus – who had previously pursued the attacking midfielder during his time with Asteras – also renewed their interest - as reported by Tuttosport.
"I don't have any problem of playing in the second division of the German league," he explained at the time to neolaki.net.
"Of course I will look at the situation and if there is another offer from a team abroad and my team agrees to let me go, I will most likely leave."
But despite the presence of a reported €800,000 release clause in his contract, the youngster stayed with Kaiserslautern, seemingly keen to stay loyal to the team that had given him his big break in the German top flight.
Two solid seasons in the Bundesliga.2 followed, with Fortounis impressing.
In 2012/13, he scored three times and provided countless assists in a season that ended in disappointment with defeat in the promotion/relegation playoff with Hoffenheim.
But it was the 2013/14 campaign that proved the most pivotal, with Fortounis playing his part in helping Kaiserslautern reach the semi-finals of the DFB Pokal despite a disappointing league campaign.
Injuries took their toll on the midfielder – he missed their semi-final defeat to Bayern Munich – and come the summer of 2014, Greece manager Santos no longer felt confident enough to pick Fortounis for his World Cup squad.
That decision provided a wake-up call to the now-22-year-old midfielder.
With Kaiserslautern facing another season in the German second-tier, Fortounis accepted an offer from Olympiakos and returned to Greece, keen to rekindle his international fortunes.
In truth, it was a match made in heaven for both parties.
Olympiakos were getting back a player who had started his career with the Athens youth side before earning a first professional deal with fourth-tier Trikala.
Fortounis, meanwhile, would get the chance to win major silverware, play for Greece and compete in the Champions League.
To say his first season in Athens went well would be an understatement – in 36 appearances for Olympiakos in the 2014/15 campaign he scored 10 goals and provided a further five assists.
The move also allowed him to hone other talents such as, most notably, his dead ball skills.
This bore fruit in the Greek Cup final, with a free-kick from 25-yards out helping to seal a 3-1 win over Skoda Xanthi in a match that saw him set up another goal and earn the Man of the Match award.
It’s got even better for Fortounis this term, with the attacker scoring five goals in five Greek Super League games so far this term.
As well-travelled a youngster as you are likely to find in the game today, the 22-year-old has also made a habit of scoring on the road this term, with three of his five goals coming away from Athens.
Older, and a little wiser, Fortounis appears to have upped his game for Olympiakos this term, offering fewer tricks for the sake of trickery and more in the way of end product.
All of which could spell bad news for Arsenal at the Emirates.