Panathinaikos Desperate to Keep Trio
Key trio Kourbelis, Dioudis and Insua are all out of contract in 2020, with Panathinaikos desperate to keep them.
Given their dire financial position in recent years, Panathinaikos have seen their best players leave - often on deals well below their true market value. The sharp reduction in the budget made it near impossible to keep a hold of the likes of Marcus Berg, Zeca, Rodrigo Moledo, Odisseas Vlachodimos, and Lucas Villafanez to name a few.
However, during this difficult period in the club’s illustrious history a trio of key players have remained. Dimitris Kourbelis, Sokratis Dioudis and Emanuel Insua are the club’s three best players at the moment and all are out of contract at the end of this season. These three players can all make a considerable difference and losing them for free in 2020 would be a bitter pill to swallow for the club’s fans.
This trio would all find a place in the respective squads of AEK, PAOK and Olympiacos for instance, and Nikos Dabizas is aware of this. He will get to work early in an attempt not to allow the situation to fester but it will be difficult to convince the key trio to stay on lower wages. On top of this, the club can show no tangible signs of on-field progress in a bid to persuade them to stay. They are practically irreplaceable as they have emerged as the ‘pillars’ of the team and Panathinaikos do not have a strong enough scouting network to lure potential replacements.
The leader of the squad has already illustrated his strong commitment to the club and his desire to stay in Athens in the past. In January 2018, he had all-but signed with PAOK but pulled out of the move at the last minute as he described it as a “sideways move” in his career. Fast forward over a year and a half, and Kourbelis is still the talisman and captain. On top of this, he has become a regular fixture at international level with the Greek national team. His situation differs slightly as his contract elapses on the 31st of December, 2020 and he is currently earning 280,000 Euro per season. In order to keep him, the Greens would have to pay a rumoured 400,000 Euro. There has recently been interest from Genoa and Sampdoria but the 3 million Euro valuation may keep potential suitors away.
The undisputed first choice goalkeeper has been a standout for the Trifylli since taking over the reigns from Vlachodimos and has broken into the national team setup in his second season as the top shot-stopper at the club, as Vasilis Barkas succumbed to injury. Dioudis has always possessed the talent but had a rotten luck with injuries and poor career moves, but appears to have found a home at Panathinaikos. He is currently earning 120,000 Euro and his contract ends on the 30th of June, 2020, but it is thought the club will need to pay him 200,000 Euro per season to stay. Clubs from Spain’s second tier have been interested in Dioudis for a while.
The view that Emanuel Insua is the best left back in the Greek Super League is endorsed by many. He can cover a lot of ground down the left flank and is very much a modern fullback with attacking attributes. In the summer of 2019, Insua was wanted by Las Palmas but Dabizas held firm and refused to allow the left back to leave as the valuation was not met. The Greens will need to come up with significantly more than the 250,000 Euro they are currently paying him. He is rumoured to be after at least 400,000 Euro per season after his contract ends on the 30th of June, 2020. His situation is believed to be the hardest due to the club’s potential inability to pay him what he wants and AEK are already believed to be linked. As a result, he is Dabizas’ first priority.