PAOK look to strengthen defence in winter transfer window
It’s all change in Thessaloniki. PAOK currently occupy third place in the Super League standings, but head coach Razvan Lucescu is determined to improve his squad even further. In recent reports, it became public that three players have been shown the door.
Interestingly, two of them only joined in the summer. Peruvian defender Carlos Zambrano signed on a season’s long loan from Russian outfit Rubin Kazan before the 2017/2018 season begun, however he has not impressed Lucescu. Feeling that the 28 year old hasn’t matched the expectations which came with his arrival, PAOK are not willing to pay the extra two million euros which are required to keep him until the summer. Their decision isn’t too surprising, especially when you remember that Zambrano made a key error in the defeat to Olympiacos and earned a cheap red card during the loss against AEK Athens.
The other is Frenchman Dorian Leveque. Since making the trip to Thessaloniki, Leveque hasn’t endured the best of experiences. Coupled with only playing in one Super League match, the defender received an injury and is likely to be out of action for three months after undergoing surgery. Unfortunately for Leveque, PAOK don’t have the patience to wait and are prepared to offload him.
Croatian defender Marin Leovac, who is in his third season with PAOK, is ready to leave Thessaloniki. Unable to cope with Lucescu’s demands, Leovac wants to find a new club for himself. Lucescu has inserted Brazilian Vieirinha in the left-back role in place of Leovac and Leveque, but PAOK understand their need to strengthen this area of the pitch if they’re to have any chance of claiming an historic league title.
As a result, PAOK are scanning the market for replacements. Their main target seems to be 24 year old Kostas Stafylidis, a Greek international out of favour at German club Augsburg. According to sport24.gr, talks have already begun between the player and PAOK concerning a loan until the summer. However, Augsburg may require a decent sum of money for the deal, and Stafylidis is attracting interest from other European countries. If a six-month loan goes through for Stafylidis, PAOK will have to fork out around one million euros.
The remaining two options are within Greece. Panionios left back Ehsan Hajsafi is rumored to be admired by PAOK, and it wouldn’t be too financially difficult to pinch the Iranian from Panionios if they decide he’s the man for the job. Swede Niklas Hult, currently a Panathinaikos player, is said to have admirers in Thessaloniki. Hult’s speed makes him a worthy asset for any team to have on the flanks, and a transfer to PAOK would help Panathinaikos’ dire financial situation.
In other news, 28 year old goalkeeper Alexandros Paschalakis signed a new contract with PAOK. Paschalakis was brought in for back-up to number one Rodrigo Rey, making his debut Super League appearance on December 2 in a 3:0 victory against Xanthi. PAOK have been impressed with his overall attitude though, offering him a contract until 2020. Paschalakis will be hoping that he can put some pressure on Rey in order to be awarded more game time.