Inside Futbol (IF): Jose, what do you remember about Vasilis Barkas at AEK Athens?
Jose Morais (JM): When I arrived at AEK, Vasilis wasn’t the first choice goalkeeper for the team. I realised that he had talent, quality, he was working and his concentration was very good.
In training, I saw that he was a quick goalkeeper with quick reactions. It was something that triggered my thoughts in terms of making him the number 1. I believed that he had fantastic qualities.
At that time he was younger than the other goalkeeper, but in terms of quality, he had great potential. Afterwards, he continued to develop and he naturally became the main goalkeeper at the club. In the goalkeepers’ world, I think he has the talent of a great one. I am happy to see his improvement.
IF: Is he able to play for a big European club?
JM: I think he deserves to play for a big club. He has the quality to compete with the best goalkeepers in Europe. He is a goalkeeper with courage, with concentration. He has everything to become an important player wherever he is in Europe.
We have, for example at Benfica, another Greek goalkeeper, Odysseas Vlachodimos, who is doing well. Barkas, as I said, has the potential to play in one of the best leagues in Europe. This is what I feel.
IF: Were you a little surprised by his transfer to Celtic?
JM: It was not a surprise for me when he moved to Celtic. He was a goalkeeper with very good potential. This was one of the main reasons that I decided at that moment to make him the number 1 because he started to play with me.
I am very happy that he developed and moved to Celtic. Hopefully, he will have better opportunities in the future.
IF: Why do you think Barkas has failed to impress so far at Celtic?
JM: Sometimes the quality of communication is important to adapt in a different country. The position of goalkeeper is a position where the interaction with all the players is not in the same way. So, I believe one of the points is communication between the players on the pitch.
Then, there is the level of confidence according to the way he feels about the group. I remember that at AEK he was not, in terms of personality, probably an extrovert, but he has a team personality and he can accept criticism and react.
He is 27, a good age for a goalkeeper; he is still young with good maturity. One year is the minimum to adapt to a different group and to be accepted. I think he has the potential and the character to fight for his place and use the opportunity that can come.
I am not with him now and I don’t know exactly the situation, but he is a talented goalkeeper. That is the reason he went to Celtic. He is in a different country. In Scotland, it is a little bit different for him. It’s different from Greece or Portugal. Probably we are warmer in our reaction.
So he needed time to adapt and feel the positive atmosphere of the group to make him feel more welcome. These are very important aspects to succeed. When you go abroad you need to have big capacities to adapt to the group. I believe if the opportunity comes for him he will be able to succeed because he has great potential. Now it is a question of confidence.
IF: Celtic paid AEK £5m for Barkas. Do you think he should get another chance or his situation could lead to an emergency loan move?
JM: They paid that much because of his recognised quality. Normally, Celtic are a club that have good scouting. I believe they are aware of his quality and probably things that did not go in the direction that they wanted, and to go on loan or stay at the club is not the question.
If they want to give him another chance I believe that he has the quality to play there. I do not know if it is what he wants because a goalkeeper likes to play. If he plays then he gains confidence. Not to play is probably not the best for himself. So depending on where he is going I think he could go on loan to have a good season and then be back again to continue his career.
He is only 26, 27 years old. I think he is a goalkeeper to play, not to be a reserve.