Evangelos Marinakis likes to buy footballers.
The Greek billionaire is the “father” not only of Olympiakos from his hometown of Piraeus, but also of the English Nottingham Forest and actively pours funds into his football empire.
Considered one of the most important people in the global shipping industry, Marinakis is also a media mogul, politician and philanthropist with quite a few questionable moments in his biography. But the latter applies to many more mastitis football owners, who are nevertheless welcomed with open arms when investing in the beloved game.
James Rodriguez signed for Olympiakos this week, becoming the 14th new signing for the Greek giants.
Do you think 14 new players is a lot? Not by the standards of Evangelos Marinakis, who earlier this summer broke the British record with Nottingham Forest – bringing in a whopping 22 signings.
For them, he blew over 160 million euros, but this is not a problem for a person whose fortune is estimated at nearly 3 billion.
Marinakis kept his promise as Forest returned to the Premier League for the first time in 23 years. The owner has vowed to give manager Steve Cooper “all the necessary ammunition” to keep Forest in England’s top flight.
It cannot be said that the mission is going according to plan, as after 7 games played, the team is in the penultimate place in the standings. But it makes sense that Cooper would need time to build a team out of all the new arrivals.
The Reds’ record-breaking selection has sparked worldwide interest and angered some of Olympiacos’ more extreme fans, who have questioned Marinakis’ commitment to their cause.
Was the boss too caught up in his shiny Premier League toy to pay attention to his beloved Greek club?
Hardly. In fact, this summer Olympiakos brought in the likes of former Real Madrid stars Marcelo and James Rodriguez, and they should help to regain the Greek title – which the team has won 10 times since Marinakis took over in 2010.
A few days ago, the Colombian James was introduced to the vociferous campaign of Olympiakos by the sporting director Christian Karembio and by Evangelos Marinakis himself.
Earlier in the month, Brazilian left-back Marcelo was greeted by a crowd of 20,000 and, like Hames, pledged to help Greece’s push for a record 48th title.
But what exactly attracts players to Marinakis’ teams, and is it just about money?
“Believe it if you want, but the issue is not only financial,” a football agent told the Daily Mail.
“It’s true that they offer good salaries, but what stands out about them is that Marinakis is super enthusiastic. He and his entourage are amazing at getting you fired up about their projects and their short- and long-term goals.”
In the case of Nottingham Forest, Steve Cooper wants not so much expensive hires as young and hungry players.
The owner makes it clear to every new arrival even before the transfer is completed: “You come not only to help Forest survive, but also to make the team capable of fighting in the Premier League.”
This is how we welcomed @jamesdrodriguez last night in “G. Karaiskakis” stadium! Welcome to the #Olympiacosfamily! / This is how we welcomed James Rodrigues to G. Karaiskakis yesterday! Welcome to the Olympiakos family! 🔴⚪️#James Rodriguez #WelcomeJames #JR10 #Marinakis pic.twitter.com/qkxvfvl1H8
— Olympiacos FC (47🏆) (@olympiacosfc) September 16, 2022
In Olympiakos, the requirement is to maintain the leading position in Greek football – second place is unacceptable there.
All the pressure is on the Spanish coach Carlos Corberan, who has to quickly integrate the new ones and form an even stronger team than before.
After the first rounds, Olympiakos is third and 4 points behind the leader Panathinaikos, and Marinakis would not tolerate such a situation for long.
His exactingness is well known and years ago the boss imposed a gigantic team fine of €500,000 on the players after one loss in the derby with Panathinaikos.
After such a transfer window, however, each team would need time to work together – after all, it is a question of as many as 14 new ones.
In terms of transfer amounts, Olympiakos paid a total of only 16 million euros, because most of the additions came as free agents. But they arrived from reputable teams and certainly their salaries are substantial.
Marinakis, 55, will be happy to pay them if these players bring him closer to his dream of a strong Olympiakos on the European stage.
The oligarch has been a fan of the team since he was a child, when his father Miltiadis also financially supports the “red and whites”.
Later in the years, Evangelos developed the family shipping company tremendously, and at one point he also entered politics and became a member of the city government of Piraeus.
There are also dubious episodes in his biography, he was accused of drug trafficking and match-fixing in the Greek championship.
Photo: Getty Images
One also remembers the case from 2013, when in the Greek Cup final between Olympiakos and Asteras, the oligarch broke into the referee’s room at halftime.
Then the score is 1:1. Olympiakos then scored twice in extra time to win the trophy, and Marinakis brazenly explained that he had walked in on the referees at half-time just to wish them luck.
Together with the president of the Greek Football Federation, the tycoon is also accused of participating in a large-scale criminal group for manipulating referees and sending them to specific matches.
However, sufficient evidence was never collected and all the accusations against Marinakis over the years ended with his complete acquittal.
Drug-trafficking charges are also not going anywhere, although they are part of a larger case involving the discovery of 2.1 tonnes of heroin on a tanker.
Don’t think such things will sway a man like Marinakis.
He is already used to being attacked from different sides without it shaking his massive presence not only in business but also in sports.
Therefore, we can expect not only more loud transfers, but also an increase in ambitions in all football endeavors in which the “father” is involved.
No wonder the 36 players recruited this summer are only the beginning.