The new Panathinaikos
A look at how Panathinaikos has changed over the course of the summer as the club now has a completely different roster from when pre-season began in June.
As the dust settles on yet another summer transfer window, Panathinaikos fans can begin to reflect on an eventful summer of change. Such is the magnitude of the change, it has never been witnessed before in Greek football. This brings along with it an array of positives and negatives, in addition to impacting the club in more ways than one. In the past few years, the club’s strategy was to change the playing roster, but this year’s primary target was to reduce the wage bill (most notably via the contracts offered), as well as enhancing the depth of the squad. However, due to strict financial constraints imposed by Alafouzos it is questionable as to whether any of these goals have been achieved. Time will tell…
Marinos Ouzounidis has been forced into building his own side on such limited resources and this has paved the way for an incredible 12 new summer signings and possible even more remarkable 17 outgoings. It must also be kept in mind that there is still time for the club to add to the 12 new faces as the window for free agents is open until the 11th of September. A totally new team has resumed training following the recent international break, as opposed to the one that begun pre-season training for the Europa League qualifiers in July.
The inability to retain key players and leaders such as Berg and Zeca which was in turn caused by the well-documented economic problems faced by the club, failure to qualify for the Champions League qualifiers and the departure of former technical director Nikos Lymberopoulos were the main reasons for such change. Ouzounidis, along with the agent Kostas Diamantopoulos, acted as technical directors in an attempt to recruit players for the right price.
One such statistic to illustrate the direction the new Panathinaikos is heading in, is the average age of the 12 new signings is 24.4 years old, with only winger Anthony Mounier being over the age of 26. Conversely, the average age of the 17 departing players is 27.7 years old. Consequently, it can be interpreted that Ouzounidis sought to recruit young, hungry players with a point to prove. This makes it easier for him to forge a particular culture of togetherness and implement a certain playing style, however, on the flip side he is faced with inexperience, as well as a lack of leadership and cohesion. Again time will tell if these changes are for the better or worse but one thing is certain, Ouzounidis needs to be given time to implement his philosophy as the club enters another rebuilding phase.
Another key outcome from this summer of change is the fact that the club can now operate on 11 million Euro per season, as opposed to the figure of 22 million this time last year under Stramaccioni. The lower risk moves will assist the club keep its finances in check as the biggest earner is star Argentine striker Andres Chavez on 650,000 Euro per season. Swedish international Oscar Hiljemark at 300,000 Euro per season is perceived to be a steal. Only Hiljemark, Sylla and Cabezas have joined on loan, while the rest are permanent, and only Cabezas has no option to be bought at the end of the season since Atalanta refused the idea.
Furthermore, another interesting point to note is that the squad now contains 7 left footed players – Hult, Insua, Lod, Mounier, Cabezas, Luciano and Chavez. This again could point to Ouzounidis seeking to bring about more balance and possibly more unpredictability to the team’s style of play.
Coincidence or not, the new signings have been brought in from a wide variety of markets such as Italy, France, Brazil and Argentina, with a strong emphasis on Latin American players. However, all have one thing in common – they have been signed based on the value they offer with greater potential sell-on fees. This will improve the economic situation at the club. Even Chavez as a marquee player is a comparatively lower risk.
Ouzounidis has a proven track record with respect to working under limited resources and has again showed his worth in these trying circumstances, acting swiftly identifying targets and getting deals done to bring in his type of player in which to build a united squad. Time will tell if the right moves were made but you wouldn’t back against him. You also cannot help but think he is papering over the cracks created by upper management. All that is required for now is patience from the fan base.