Panathinaikos’ big summer signings come up short
Halfway through the 2017/18 season and the early results are in with respect to the impact of summer transfer signings. One thing that must be taken into account with Panathinaikos is the delicate financial predicament the Greens find themselves in. Manager Marinos Ouzounidis had a small budget to work with, especially in comparison to rival clubs. He was also forced as acting as technical director as Nikos Lymberopoulos walked away from the post early in the off season.
Consequently, all of this must be considered when judging how the new signings have fared. Below is a player-by-player breakdown:
THE INSTANT HITS
Sokratis Dioudis: He has recently dislodged Odisseas Vlachodimos as starting goalkeeper. This could partially come down to the German youth international leaving for Benfica at season’s end, but the Greek youth international has shown why Ouzounidis trusts him with an array of fine saves to win Panathinaikos valuable points (most notably against Atromitos away). The former Panionios and Aris man was always tipped as a top prospect but injuries halted his progress. The aim is to now cement that starting spot with his good reflexes and live up to the early promise by having a long, successful career by providing the Greens with a safe pair of hands between the sticks.
Omri Altman: The Israeli youth international was brought to the club as a virtual unknown from Maccabi Tel Aviv for a fee in the region of 150,000 Euro. This highlights the severe financial constraints impacting Ouzounidis. The attacking midfielder, however, has done relatively well barring an injury that kept him out for some time. His two goals so far came in a home win against Apollon Smyrni and the recent away draw away at Xanthi.
Dimitris Kolovetsios: The 26 year old defender signed a two year deal after leaving AEK as a free agent. His performances have largely been solid but unspectacular. Having started the season as third choice centre back behind Moledo and Koutroubis, the Larissa born defender has earnt the trust of Ouzounidis to become a starter at the expense of the latter. In addition to this, he can also provide cover at right back if need be. He has stepped in a few times when Coulibaly has been injured.
THE QUESTION MARKS
Yacouba Sylla: The French-born Mali international joined the Greens on a season long loan from Rennes. The defensive midfielder has spent time on loan at many clubs during his career after leaving Aston Villa, but came to Athens as a replacement for the influential Zeca. He has started many games and his dynamic play has been a good feature but in truth he was always going to find it difficult stepping into the shoes of the irreplaceable Zeca. He is now deemed a starter but has not been able to make a difference in most games. His over exuberance was evident with his red card in the dramatic home win against Larissa.
Bryan Cabezas: The tricky Ecuadorian international winger joined on loan from Atalanta and when on the pitch has proven he can make a difference. His rich talent was on show right from the beginning where he scored against both Qabala and Athletic Bilbao in UEFA Europa League qualifiers. He has not been the same since his injury but if he can stay healthy there is no doubt he can become the best summer signing. His trickery, pace and good shooting accuracy can be a huge boost in the second half of the season.
Tasos Avlonitis: The central defender was bright in for defensive cover and has found first team minutes hard to come by since arriving but when called upon he has demonstrated he can be trusted. Given his lack of playing time it is hard to judge but he is expected to feature more often in the second half of the season after the probable departure of Moledo.
Fanis Tzandaris: Much like Avlonitis, the former Olympiakos and PAOK player signed as a free agent but has only received limited game time via the Greek Cup. He received his first league start in the final game of the first half of the season against Xanthi where his performance put him in calculations for man of the match. Again, it is too early to judge but it is expected he will see more regular action in the second half of the season.
Luciano: A cruel long-term injury received early in the season curtailed his impact, making it almost impossible to judge. Prior to his injury there were flashes of class but he was largely inconsistent as he needed time to settle in a new city and club. It is hoped he returns full of confidence as he was not afraid to take defences on and has a decent shot.
THE REAL MISSES
Andres Chavez: The most expensive of all summer signings, the Argentine striker arrived with the most fanfare but ultimately failed enormously to the point where his transfer is the biggest miss. Bought to replace the ever-reliable Marcus Berg, the former Boca Juniors man made an instant impact by scoring in his debut almost immediately after coming on as a substitute in the opening game of the season against Platanias. This however, proved to be a false dawn as injury and poor attitude got in the way. He also scored in a Greek Cup match against Larissa. It was questioned in the beginning whether he even wanted to transfer to Greece, and after a series of niggling injuries he left for his native Argentina without the club’s permission. After talks with his management, his contract was terminated without ever returning to Greece.
Oscar Hiljemark: The Swedish international midfielder joined on a season long loan from Genoa and has shown flashes of brilliance, most notably in the home wins over PAS Giannina and Larissa (where he scored in both). His transfer has not had the desired effect, however, more so due to his poor attitude. It is believed he lets his anger get in the way if he is not named in the starting side. The last thing a Panathinaikos side in crisis needs is unhappy players, and talks about an early release have already begun.
Anthony Mounier: The French winger is unfortunately a shadow of the player he was as injuries have taken their toll on the 30 year old as he seems to be off the pace. He signed a three year deal on Deadline Day from Bologna but has never reached any great heights. At his peak he possibly would have been a vital player, but in between numerous injuries his only highlight is scoring in a Greek Cup match against Anagennisi Karditsa. He has only just resumed training again after picking up an injury in the game against Atromitos last month.
Emanuel Insua: The Argentine left back signed a three year deal from Udinese but is another who has failed to have an impact. He has struggled to dislodge Niklas Hult from the starting side. He has found playing minutes hard to come by and his red card at Toumba will not win over any fans. If, as rumoured, Hult departs, the club will find itself in a sticky situation at left back.
Mattias Johansson: The Swedish right back signed as a free agent after his release from AZ Alkmaar but has also failed to establish himself as a regular. In the few times he has played he has looked shaky. Coulibaly remains the undisputed first choice, but it is worrying that Kolovetsios has been chosen ahead of the natural right back which illustrates he cannot be trusted. Again, Coulibaly has been rumoured to depart next month and the club would struggle to replace him.