Vangelis Pavlidis: AZ’s Greek Forward

Despite losing various key players such as Tijjani Reijnders, Milos Kerkez and Jesper Karlsson, AZ Alkmaar have enjoyed an impressive start to the season under Pascal Jensen. The Cheeseheads sit fourth in the table, eight points above Ajax, one behind Twente, five behind Feyenoord, and 15 behind league leaders PSV Eindhoven. They have scored 35 goals, a figure only bettered by PSV (56) and defending champions Feyenoord (48) — over half of those goals have come from star man Vangelis Pavlidis.


Born in Thessaloniki, Greece, he left for Germany in 2015 and joined Bochum, but he would rack up just a handful of appearances during his time there. Instead, Pavlidis enjoyed loan spells at Borussia Dortmund’s reserves and Willem II, signing with Willem in 2019 on a permanent deal and racking up 11 goals and 3 assists in 25 Eredivisie appearances, before following that up with 12 and 5 in 34.


It was enough to convince AZ Alkmaar, who signed him on a four-year contract for €2.5 million. The Greek forward continued to make steady progress in the Netherlands with 16 goals and 5 assists — in total, he chipped in with 25 goals and 7 assists across all competitions. The 2022/23 season would see him add 12 goals and 8 assists — 22 goals and 14 assists across all competitions — with AZ coming within inches of making the UEFA Europa Conference League Final.


He’s picked up where he left off and proven unstoppable in front of goal for AZ, whose European journey came to an end on Thursday in a 2-0 loss to Legia Warsaw. Whilst their dreams of becoming the first Dutch team to win the Europa Conference League have come to an end, they are more than capable of putting together a strong Eredivisie campaign thanks to the Greek striker.


PSV On Course to End Six-year TItle Drought Under Peter Bosz


Pavlidis enjoyed a stellar start to the campaign, picking up three goals and an assist as AZ beat Go Ahead Eagles 5-1 and RKC Waalwijk 3-1. It was enough for him to take home the Eredivisie Player of the Month for August, beating out Tobias Lauristen (Sparta Rotterdam) and Nikolas Agrafiotis (Excelsior) to the award. A prolific goal-scorer, Pavlidis also boasts a strong ball control ability and is capable of snuffing out chances with his shrewd positioning in the opposing half and his excellent shooting accuracy.


Last season saw Pavlidis finish joint-9th in the Eredivisie top scorers race with 12 goals from 20 (0.58 goals per 90), behind joint-top scorers Xavi Simons and Anastasios Douvikas with 19. Pavlidis is one goal away from matching their tally, and he is looking to become the fourth Greek player to finish as Eredivisie top scorer after Nikos Machlas (1997/98 – 34), Giorgos Giakoumakis (2020/21 – 26), and Douvikas (2022/23 – 19).


Pavlidis made history when he scored a hat-trick in AZ’s 3-0 victory against Heerenveen, becoming the first player in Eredivisie history to score in each of the first nine games of the season.  He was kept under wraps in the following two league matches, but he’s proven that to be a mere blip, finding the back of the net in the next four league matches before being held scoreless in a 4-0 loss to PSV.


Only Feyenoord’s Santiago Giménez (18) has scored as many league goals as Pavlidis, with PSV captain Luuk de Jong coming in third at 12. Prior to the loss to PSV, Pavlidis had taken 43 shots in 15 matches league matches at a rate of 3.44 per 90 minutes —  31 of those shots were on target at 2.48 per 90 minutes while the other 12 were off target at 0.96 per 90 minutes, putting his shooting accuracy at 72.09%.


Santiago Giménez: Feyenoord’s Mexican Sharpshooter in Attack


With 18 goals, he registers a goal for every 2.87 shots and is averaging more than a goal per game, as well as racking up 16 key passes. He’s shown his capabilities in Europe as well with 3 goals in 6 Europa Conference League appearances — Pavlidis, who turned 25 last month, has solidified himself as one of the top forwards in the Netherlands with 21 goals and 3 assists in 26 appearances across all competitions.


One area where he does need to show improvement is duels — having won 66 out of 166 ground duels and a total of 17 aerial duels won, although he did impress in this department against PSV with 4 of 6 aerial duels won. As far as discipline goes, he shows the composure and cool-headedness of a veteran — you’d have to go back all the way to February 18 to find the last time he was booked in the Eredivisie.


Pavlidis is the second player in AZ Alkmaar’s history to score 26 Eredivisie goals in a calendar year after Kees Kist, who scored 31 in 1977 and 29 in 1978. He’ll be looking to close out a phenomenal 2023 as his AZ side face off against third-tier HHC in the second round of the KNVB Cup, before returning from the winter break with a trip to Twente on January 13.


By: Ogenyi Paul / @234programmer

Featured Image: @GabFoligno / ANP – Getty Images