Rating Panathinaikos’ January Transfer Window
For a club in such a dire financial situation off the field, the winter transfer window can be viewed as somewhat of a success for Panathinaikos. As always, players were brought in to bolster a rather thin squad, others were released to either free up some funds, bring in relatively decent transfer fees and clean up the morale of the dressing room.
Vangelis Oikonomou was the first acquisition. The former Panionios centre back was signed on a free transfer following his release from the Nea Smyrni club. It was a sensible move on all levels since the player has worked with Ouzounidis in the past and they have that understanding. Additionally, he brings experience to a relatively young squad in a vital position. One can also assume he was not offered a ridiculous wage either.
PAOK duo Giannis Mystakidis and Ergys Kace joined on Deadline Day. They have both signed on loan and both have a point to prove. In the case of the former, his career was just starting to really take off before a cruel injury halted his progress. It must be noted he went 260 days without playing a competitive game. Mystakidis is not the out-and-out striker the Greens craved but he knows how to find the back of the net and will help out in the final third. The fact that it is only a 6 month loan deal shows PAOK still have high hopes for the Greek youth international but want him to obtain regular first team football.
Conversely, Kace has signed on loan for now but Panathinaikos will have an option to buy him at the end of the season. He has not been able to break into a strong PAOK team for the most part this season but has shown glimpses in the past. He also represented Albania at Euro 2016 making 1 appearance. In what should provide some hope for Panathinaikos fans, the player has already told Ouzounidis that he is ready to play from the beginning. We will see what happens but for now this looks to be the more underwhelming signing when compared with the other two.
As for the departures, losing Lucas Villafanez for under 2 million Euro is a bitter pill to swallow as Alanyaspor took advantage of a desperate Panathinaikos. His creativity will be a huge loss. It is still unknown what the short-term future holds for Rodrigo Moledo but he has definitely with Internacional for next season. His presence will be sorely missed. Apart from that, the other losses were not too bad. Oscar Hiljemark, Bryan Cabezas and Yacouba Sylla returned to their parent clubs. None of these players showed they had the right attitude to play for Panathinaikos during these tough times. Niklas Hult was a decent left back for the Greek Super League but towards the end of his stay there was too much bad blood between him and the club, and he fell out of favour with Ouzounidis. The Swedish international signed with rivals AEK on Deadline Day for a fee of 1.5 million Euro. Huracan also purchased all of Panathinaikos’ rights with respect to Andres Chavez for a fee believed to be in the region of 1.3 million Euro. This was undoubtedly the best bit of business as the Greens were able to obtain funds immediately for a player who failed miserably and had no intention of returning to Greece.
Dimitris Kourbelis stayed put which will help on-field matters. Sampdoria are believed to be agreeing a deal to sign him for next season which will also be a major boost to the Greens’ finances. It must also be noted, Ousmane Coulibaly and Robin Lod will see out the season. Both had attracted interest from many European clubs but moves never materialised. Similarly with the case of Villafanez, the club found itself in a difficult situation as there is a trade-off between keeping quality players or selling them to raise funds to pay the debt off.