Sheffield United: Olympiacos and Nottingham Forest interest thickens Max Lowe plot

When it emerged Olympiacos want to take Max Lowe to Piraeus, where the 47-time Super League champions are based, the obvious conclusion to draw is that it simply represents another twist in Nottingham Forest’s battle to sign the Sheffield United defender after seeing an attempt thwarted during the January transfer window.

Friday, 1st July 2022, 12:04 pm

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Sheffield United: Greek giants want Nottingham Forest target Max Lowe

After all, Evangelos Marinakis owns both clubs known to want the full-back who, despite struggling for opportunities in South Yorkshire, proved a big hit at the City Ground last term.

But does the Greek giants interest in Lowe, which was confirmed by The Star today, form part of some cunning plan designed to circumnavigate the obstacles United have put in Forest’s way? Or should it be considered on its own merits, with Marinakis merely deciding that if his English team can’t the 25-year-old then his one on the continent should? Either way, officials at Bramall Lane have a big decision to make.

If, and it remains ‘if’, Lowe is cleared to join Pedro Martins’ side, then he may or may not pitch up in the east Midlands one day after impressing on loan there last term. But sources with knowledge of Olympiacos’ interest insist their approach should be considered on its own merits. After all, Marinakis has not survived over a decade at the Karaiskakis Stadium by treating them as some sort of junior partner in his business portfolio, which also includes interests in the media and shipping. Olympiacos, having collected 82 major trophies since being founded less than a century ago, are a major power in their own right and are treated as such by the father of four.

The dilemma

On the face of it, given that Paul Heckingbottom’s efforts to reprofile his squad since losing to Forest in May’s play-off semi-finals appear to be progressing slower than he hoped, the United manager and his board of directors could be tempted to keep Lowe in South Yorkshire. Despite failing to command a regular starting role at Bramall Lane since arriving there in September 2020, as part of the deal which also saw Jayden Bogle leave Derby County, he is clearly good enough to hold one down in Forest’s first choice eleven. Although his campaign was interrupted by injury, he made 23 appearances for Steve Cooper’s employers. And, as no one at United needs reminding, they are now preparing for top-flight football.

Evangelos Marinakis owns Olympiacos and Nottingham Forest: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

The gamble

But given that Lowe is likely to want regular action next season, something Heckingbottom might not be able to guarantee him, refusing to do business also represents a risk. Particularly, having seen his wages cut for a second time following United’s failure to go up, the player’s representatives have pointed out they should consider compensating him for the loss of a PL wage after rejecting Forest’s advances during the January window. Quoted £5m at the time, around £3m more than they were prepared to pay, negotiators acting on Cooper’s behalf have not returned with another concrete proposal although they have maintained a watching brief on Lowe’s situation.

Unless United can devise a clear career development strategy for him, Marinakis will try and exploit the uncertainty surrounding Lowe’s future by tempting him with an invite to join one of Europe’s most recognisable names. And Heckingbottom knows that unsettled players are not part of the winning formula.

Sheffield United's Max Lowe is a wanted man: Darren Staples/Sportimage
Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom (second left) with members of the club's hierarchy: Simon Bellis/Sportimage