Jimenez set to remain in AEK hotseat
Despite the bitter defeat in the Greek Cup final, Manolo Jimenez looks set to remain in his position of AEK head coach, with club owner Dimitris Melissanidis not contemplating the possibility of sacking the Spaniard.
Jimenez returned to AEK in February after Marinos Ouzounidis resigned, becoming the Athenians’ head coach for the third time in his career. To his credit, the 55-year-old managed to steer AEK to the final of the Greek Cup, however the disappointing 0:1 defeat to PAOK on Saturday ignited rumours that he might be sacked this summer. AEK finished in third position of the Super League to earn a place in the third qualifying round of the 2019/2020 UEFA Europa League.
Following the loss in the Greek Cup final, Melissanidis organised a team meeting in Spata, in which he expressed his disappointment at losing against PAOK while acknowledging the players’ efforts. Afterwards, the 68-year-old businessman spoke with Jimenez and Nikos Lymberopoulos in regards to preparations for the 2019/2020 campaign, and reports have confirmed that no major changes will be made to the managing set-up. Jimenez will remain in his role of AEK head coach, with Lymberopoulos keeping his job as the sporting director.
However, assistant manager Felipe Benitez Ufano has departed AEK due to personal reasons. It must be noted that he was not sacked by Melissanidis.
AEK will return to competitive action in early August in the third qualifying phase of the Europa League. On July 22, AEK will find out their opponents in the competition, before the matches take place on the 8th and 15th of August. The Enosis will play their first two home games of the 2019/2020 European season behind closed doors as a result of fan trouble in the UEFA Champions League match against Ajax, something which makes their task of reaching the group stage all the more difficult. The draw for the playoff round will be held on August 6.
LAMPROPOULOS LEAVING, ALEF DEAL POTENTIALLY CLOSE
Since late November, centre-back Vasilis Lampropoulos has been out in the cold after contract renewal talks stalled, and the 29-year-old will leave AEK as a free agent this summer.
On Monday, Lampropoulos attended the training session in Spata to say his goodbyes to his AEK teammates, with the defender reportedly aiming to continue his career overseas instead of remaining in Greece. Last year, Andre Simoes and Tasos Bakasetas were also ostracized from the AEK squad because of the same contract reason, but they eventually reached an agreement with the management.
Lampropoulos won two trophies (Greek Cup, Super League) and helped the team reach the group stages of the UEFA Champions League during his time as an AEK player. He has been at the club since 2014 when AEK were in the Football League.
According to information from sport-fm.gr, AEK have the opportunity to sign Brazilian midfielder Alef from SC Braga on a permanent basis for one million euros after the 24-year-old played on loan in Athens this season.
Initially, AEK wanted to reduce the transfer fee, but it seems they will be willing to strike a deal with Braga to secure Alef’s signature for one million. In the 2018/2019 campaign, Alef played in a grand total of 36 matches across all competitions, scoring two goals. Jimenez left him out of the squad for the Greek Cup final against PAOK.