it’s not every day you find a transfer which appears to work wonders for every single party involved. The deal which saw Antonio Colak leave PAOK Thessaloniki for Rangers to the tune of around £2 million, however, is most certainly one of those.
Colak only mustered four goals in 39 games during his time at PAOK. But a man who proved prolific at NK Rijeka and Malmo has been much more like his usual self at Ibrox. The Croatian’s tally of 17 is two more than the next-best at Ibrox; set-piece specialist and penalty kick James Tavernier on 15.
As for his former employers, well, PAOK have a top-four finish all-but sewn up already. Champions League qualification is far from out of the question either, PAOK just five points adrift of second-place AEK Athens and boasting the third-highest number of goals anywhere in the division.
PAOK even have seven more to their name than table-toppers Panathinaikos.
That has much to do with the impressive form of Brandon Thomas. The Spanish centre-forward was snapped up from Malaga as a replacement for Colak, and has repaid PAOK’s trust with nine goals during an eye-catching debut season.
PAOK misfit Antonio Colak is a big hit at Rangers
“We all know how football works. Colak is an important player for PAOK. But, last year, he did not prove what he can offer,” former PAOK midfielder Toni Gonzalez told Metropolis 95.5 over the summer.
“If you ask me, I can bring you five better players than Colak from the Spanish market.”
Given that former Osasuna striker Thomas has found goals far easier to come by in Greece than Colak did, Gonzalez’s argument certainly stands the test of time.
Exactly why Colak found form so fleeting on the Mediterranean, however, is a bit of a mystery. His record at Rangers, Malmo and Rijeka, after all, is proof that, if you can provide a steady stream of chances, Colak will hit double figures with minimal fuss and a ruthless efficiency.
“I’ve watched Colak,” one-time Greek Super League ace Antonis Petropoulos said to Metrosport some eight months back. “I think it’s a good step for him. In the Scottish league, he could score a lot of goals.
“We have seen it in other cases; A player not succeeding in one team but doing well elsewhere,” Petropoulos adds, pointing out that Colak is not the only talented number nine who struggled in Greece.
“Let’s also remember (Dimitar) Berbatov at PAOK. We were saying that he forgot to score goals!”
Fortunately for Rangers, all those goal-poaching instincts quickly came flooding back to Colak at Ibrox.