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Watford completed the signing of goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis on a season-long loan deal from Italian Serie A side Udinese on the transfer deadline day.
The 32-year old is currently away on international duty with the Greece national team and is expected to join Marco Silva’s side once the international break is over. Karnezis became the Hornets’ eleventh signing this summer,# after Silva took over from Walter Mazzarri. He will be expected to challenge Heurelho Gomes for the No.1 spot.
Here we take a closer look at who Orestis Karnezis is and what he will be able to bring to the table for Watford.
Born in Athens, Greece, on 11 July 1985, Karnezis started off his footballing journey with the academy of Greek club OFI Crete. He broke into the senior team at OFI in 2005, and having made just 10 appearances for the club, he joined Greek giants Panathinaikos in 2007.
In his first four years at the club, until 2011, the custodian made just 7 appearances, but became more involved from the 2011-12 campaign. He made 24 appearances that year, and was named the best Greek goalkeeper of the year. He made 40 more appearances the following season, keeping 13 clean sheets. In the summer of 2013, he was snapped up by Udinese, but was immediately loaned out to Spanish side Granada CF, where he had to warm the bench for almost the entire season. He made only 6 appearances, but his display against Barcelona in a 1-0 win was a stand-out.
Upon returning to Udinese at the end of the season, Karnezis became the first-choice at the club, and made his debut in August 2014, in a 2-0 win over Empoli. He went on to play on 37 occasions in the 2014/15 season, managing 8 shut-outs. There was interest from Napoli following his debut Serie A season, but he stayed put with the Zebrette and accumulated 39 games the following season. Last term, he played on 34 occasions, conceding 48 goals and keeping 8 clean sheets.
Karnezis represented the Greece at various youth levels before getting his big break for the national team in February 2012. Since then, he has established himself as a No.1 for the side and has made 43 appearances.
Standing tall at 6ft 2in, Karnezis is a daunting presence in the goal and shows good strength in the six-yard box when coming in to collect long balls and corners.
Orestis Karnezis: Only two goalkeepers have made more saves in the last three Serie A campaigns than Karnezis (318) pic.twitter.com/MErafRbTny
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) July 29, 2017
Blessed with brilliant reflexes and ability to dive and make spectacular saves, the 32-year old is a good handler of the ball as well. His positional awareness and his ability to keep his concentration levels up over the course of the game mean that he is a hard man to beat in goal. In the past two seasons in the Serie A, only two goalkeepers have made more saves than Karnezis’ total of 318. The Greek international is a strong kicker and can find his teammates upfield with more than decent accuracy.
Karnezis is proven at club level and at the international level, and has the ability to challenge Gomes for the starting berth at the Vicarage Road. It wouldn’t be a surprise if we saw the Greek shot-stopper displace the Brazilian sooner than later.