Possible Panathinaikos Transfer Targets
Following the well-publicised failure to obtain a licence in next season’s edition of the Greek Super League, Panathinaikos has been hit with hefty penalties. For starters, the Greens will start next season on -6. To put this into context, the team started on -2 last season and could never fully recover playing catch up before a ball was kicked.
On top of this, the club has been hit with significant transfer restrictions. They will be able to sign an infinite amount of Greek players (who must be eligible to represent the National Team) under the age of 23 and on contracts less than 100,000 Euro, but apart from that, there are limitations at play. For instance, the club is only able to sign one Greek or foreigner over 23 in the upcoming summer transfer window. In the winter transfer window, the club can sign only one Greek over 23 and no foreigner. As bad as it may sound, this is still better than the old penalty of automatic relegation.
The club is close to changing hands with Pairoj Piempongsant and Pan Asia being very close to the finish line in negotiations with the hugely unpopular Giannis Alafouzos. Nikos Dabizas has already been appointed as technical director and Giorgos Donis is close to being announced as the new manager. As it can be observed, with these punishments immediate success will be difficult but with patience and smart scouting there are still many good quality players that can be acquired by the club as evidenced in the below list:
Giorgos Kyriakopoulos - 22, Left Back/Midfielder (Asteras Tripolis)
The Patra-born youngster enjoyed a breakout season at Asteras Tripolis under the guidance of the clever Savvas Pantelidis, who used him further up the pitch in a left midfield role. Originally a left back, he is touted as one of the best left-footed Greek footballers at the moment, with a build and playing style similar to that of Euro 2004 winner Takis Fyssas. His highlight of the season was undoubtedly the goal he scored against PAOK. It was the opening goal of one of the most memorable games last season.
Nemanja Milojevic - 20, Winger (Cukaricki)
His surname may be deceiving, but he is the son of former Panathinaikos defender and current Red Star Belgrade manager Vladan Milojevic. The winger is a product of Serbian football but oddly enough has opted to represent Greece (making 5 appearances for the U19 in 2016 and 2017). As a result, he falls under the category in which the Greens can sign an infinite amount of players. He possesses strong technical skills and a lethal left foot, scoring 3 times for his club in 25 appearances. He is also the vice-captain at Cukaricki, illustrating strong leadership skills at such a young age, however, he refused to sign a new contract when given the chance. Possibly a word with his father could sway him to follow in his father’s footsteps and wear the Trifylli…
Tasos Douvikas - 18, Striker (Asteras Tripolis)
In Douvikas, the Arkades believe they found the player to continue their amazing tradition of developing internationals and selling them to Greece’s “bigger” clubs for a substantial profit, such as they did with Kostas Fortounis, Dimitris Kourbelis and Tasos Bakasetas. The striker possesses great talent and for his age has an aggression rarely seen when taking opposition defences on. He will only continue to grow into his body and when he fills out, he will be an even more dangerous proposition. Another strength is his speed. The Greens are in desperate need of a reliable goal scorer and his stocks are only rising following dominant outings for the Greek U19 team against the Czech Republic and Poland.
Petros Orfanidis - 22, Central Midfielder (Xanthi)
Many believed that the former Greek U19 representative would follow in the footsteps of former Xanthi midfielders Petros Mantalos and Theodoros Vasilakakis. Marinos Ouzounidis was reportedly keen to sign him at Panathinaikos but the 22 year old endured a stop-start season where he evidently stagnated. He only made 10 appearances and failed to register a full 90 minute outing but his potential is not in question.
Enea Mihaj - 19, Centre Back (Panetolikos)
Born on the island of Rhodes, the young Greek-Albanian centre back has already represented Albania at youth level but is still eligible to turn out for Greece at senior level and recently expressed a desire to do so. The boom rookie was a consistent performer over his 26 appearances for the Agrinio based outfit under the tutelage of Euro 2004 legend Traianos Dellas, where PAOK reportedly expressed an interest in January. He has the perfect build for a colossal centre back and is still growing, which bodes well for his development.
Dimitris Meliopoulos - 18, Defensive Midfielder (Xanthi)
Classed as the next big thing to come out of Xanthi and the best prospect in the region of Thrace, the 18 year old made an impressive 18 appearances across all competitions last season (mainly in the heart of defence). Playing in such a vital position at such a young age, he displayed strong sense of spatial awareness and heading skills. As with many others his age, he is still growing and will only get better over time but Xanthi values him at 1.5 million Euro, demonstrating the high regard he is held in. This would, however, make it almost impossible for Panathinaikos to make a move.
Giannis Masouras - 21, Right Back (Larissa)
The former Panachaiki fullback started out as a track and field athlete (he was a 200m runner in his earlier years), but has evolved into a player in high demand. The move to Larissa for an undisclosed fee only served to fast track his progress - he was very consistent in his 23 League appearances last season. His lightning quick speed allows him to cover a lot of ground bombing up and down the right flank. Consequently, he is one of the most sought after Greek player at the moment, as Olympiakos and Copenhagen have already expressed an interest. Larissa has valued him at 1 million Euro.
Taxiarchis Fountas - 22, Attacking Midfielder/Winger (Sonnenhof)
It might be hard to believe, but the fleet-footed attacker is not even 23 yet as he has been around for some time and already played for 7 different clubs. Currently in the third tier of German football, the former AEK man made 14 appearances last season but failed to impress. Now out of contract, Panathinaikos could do worse than pursuing a low-risk player on a small deal with a point to prove.
Triantafyllos Pasalidis - 21, Centre Back (Asteras Tripolis)
The no-nonsense centre half had signed with Olympiakos in January, only for the move to fall through in spring as the Reds changed their mind. This did not seem to affect the 21 year old as he proved to be irreplaceable last season ast Asteras Tripolis over his 26 appearances and 2 goals. He also matured significantly over the past 12 months since it was his first season in the top flight, having previously played for Aiginiakos in the Football League. Furthermore, he has made 7 appearances for the Greek U21 team to date.
Panagiotis Moraitis - 21, Striker (Panachaiki)
The 21 year old moved down a tier to the Football League with Panachaiki from Panetolikos and proved to be a revelation. He moved almost a year ago as he was deemed to be “overweight” and out of favour. However, he made a home for himself at Patra last season scoring 14 times in 29 games - a return of just under 1 goal every 2 games. A record coveted by any striker. This led to his call up in the Greek U21 team and he repaid the faith shown in him by scoring against Slovenia. He has also changed his playing style to be an all-round striker, having improved all areas of his game. As previously mentioned, the Greens are in dire need of a poacher who knows how to find the back of the net.
Alexandros Katranis - 20, Left back (Saint-Etienne)
The former Atromitos fullback is another who has the ability to make an immediate difference to the Greens. He moved from the Peristeri outfit to French club Saint-Etienne and has not yet featured for the first team, primarily playing for the second team as the step up was deemed too big for him at this stage, having only played 14 top flight games in his entire career. He has also represented Greece at youth level on 24 occasions (U17, U19 and U21). Panathinaikos have been linked with a move in this transfer window, even though he signed a 5 year contract just under a year ago, the move back to Greece playing competitively against men should do him the world of good.
The above names highlight the Trifylli does have several good, young players to pursue that can make an immediate difference. Clearly, it will not be easy for Dabizas but all hope should not be lost. Dabizas has also made it clear he is chasing the “new Vlachodimos” - in other words, a Greek eligible to represent the National Team but born and raised outside Greece. He will primarily focus on the European diaspora, most notably considering Greeks from countries such as Germany, Sweden, Belgium and Switzerland. These players may not be as well-known to other Greek clubs, enabling the Greens to pounce in the “bargain buy’ market.
Additionally, there are several other names in Greece that the club can attract. Defenders Stratos Svarnas and Okan Chatziterzoglou and forward Vasilis Fasidis of Xanthi are a case in point. Former PAOK central midfielder Kyriakos Savvidis, currently at Panionios is another. In fact, the Nea Smyrni outfit is notorious for producing talented young Greeks. Atromitos is another club that has proved to be a great breeding ground for young Greek talent. Kostas Kotsopoulos for instance, is a young centre forward who has risen through the lower leagues to make 7 Super League appearances in the second half of last season.
PAOK also has numerous youngsters that Panathinaikos can attract that fit bill as Greeks under 23. In fact, Panathinaikos is already reportedly chasing Panagiotis Deligiannidis and Konstantinos Chatzidimpas. Stelios Pozoglou, Manolis Patralis and Achilleas Poungouras can be others that Dabizas can target from the Thessaloniki-based club.
Panetolikos possesses others Panathinaikos can target, most notably in the form of Stathis Vasiloudis and Dimitris Chantakias. Levadiakos midfielder Zisis Karachalios is another young talent who caught the eye last season, particularly in his playing time with the Greek U21 team.
In terms of Greeks abroad that fit the bill, there are a few. Former Olympiakos man Praxitelis Vouros played 18 times for APOEL last season and has been capped on 27 occasions at youth level (U17, U18, U19 and U21). Antonis Stergiakis is a talented 19 year old goalkeeper who has played for Slavia Sofia in Bulgaria since 2015. Olympiakos was thought to be close to signing him but the deal fell through at the last minute. The Greens have Sokratis Dioudis in goal to replace Odisseas Vlachodimos but could definitely do with reinforcements.
As it can be observed, when one searches hard enough, the possibilities are endless.