Another summer of upheaval beckons
Panathinaikos fans have become accustomed to summers littered with bad news, and it is expected this upcoming offseason will be no different with a whopping 15 players possibly departing, along with Marinos Ouzounidis.
If things were to continue into the new season as they currently are, under the Alafouzos regime, the budget would fall to a tiny 2.5-3 million Euro. A far cry from the 22 million budget only a couple of seasons ago. On top of this, there is also the ongoing licensing issue and the almost certain transfer ban from UEFA. If things stay the way they are, next season’s primary objective for the playing group and coach will be to stay in the top flight.
On the coaching front, Ouzounidis has already contemplated leaving twice this season (after losing early in the season away at Panetolikos and in January), however, in February he confirmed he will see the season out. This can be deemed a massive success as the Greens would be in a significantly worse position if not for Ouzounidis. Conversely, the former Panathinaikos defender has hinted he would definitely leave if Giannis Alafouzos was to remain behind the driver’s seat.
His stocks are rapidly rising and it is believed he rejected an offer from APOEL to takeover the Cypriot giants, as well as another unnamed European club. He is off contract at season’s end and club management is hopeful of extending his stay if there is a change of ownership but this season has clearly taken its toll on the likable manager.
There are 5 players who will definitely be departing at the end of the season. Odisseas Vlachodimos has already signed with Benfica since October. Robin Lod has enjoyed living in Athens and his time at the club, however, his contract will expire. Guillermo Molins will retire. Ergys Kace and Giannis Mystakidis are on loan and currently being paid by PAOK, not Panathinaikos. It is tipped the duo will return to Thessaloniki with a view to moving to another Greek club or abroad.
The biggest earners at the club next season will be earning between 180,000-200,000 Euro, an incredibly small figure when you consider the wages other players are on at other Greek and European clubs. There are 4 foreigners who were signed at the start of this season who have a contract until 2020, but would be forced into taking a paycut to stay at the club. Mattias Johansson, Emanuel Insua and Omri Altman were signed primarily to improve the depth of the squad, and only Anthony Mounier was brought in as a “key player”. If these players refuse to take a paycut, they will either be sold or released with compensation. As it can be observed, a change of ownership is vital to the club’s future, and if it was to happen all 4 players would more than likely remain at the Trifylli next season.
There is another group of 3 players who the club would likely move on in a bid to aid its finances. Dimitris Kourbelis was almost off to PAOK on Deadline Day in the last transfer window, however, the captain did not want to head north as his aim is to move abroad. It is believed his transfer would bring about the most funds. Efforts were made in January to move on Ousmane Coulibaly to England or France but a move never materialised. His transfer would of course bring in less money than Kourbelis’.
There is a special case in the form of Luciano Neves. The exciting Brazilian has only recently returned to full training as he was injured for almost the entire season. He has a contract until 2020 but is on 550,000 Euro. This is not in line with what the aforementioned biggest wage will be next season, so he may be sold. Again, this could easily change if there was a change at the top, but at this point in time it is unlikely he will remain in Athens.
On top of this, there are 3 Greek players who are off contract at the end of the season. Christos Donis, who has turned into a key player playing out of position up front, has not yet been approached with a new offer to remain. In this case, talks may begin after the license issue is resolved. Under new ownership he would stay at the club. Stefanos Evangelou has fallen out of favour with Ouzounidis and will depart. Giannis Bouzoukis is not willing to listen to any offer from the club and it is rumoured he is close to joining Asteras Tripolis.
Once the license for next season is confirmed, club management will turn its attention to tieing down Nikos Dabizas as technical director and offering a contract extension to Ouzounidis, however, as it can be observed there are many issues simultaneously at play and in one way or another they are inextricably linked. As a result, Panathinaikos fans, can strap themselves in for an action-packed summer.