Panathinaikos Enters Busiest Ever Summer With a Bang
If Panathinaikos fans thought the off season would bring an end to the daily developments and new stories breaking, they can think again. This summer looms as the most important in the club’s history. Mere days after such a tumultuous season has ended, the club is facing fresh points deductions, while many players have confirmed they will depart. This all comes as Pan Asia begins its legal inspection in relation to the well-documented takeover.
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Essien Asks For -3
The Ghanaian landed in Athens almost 3 years ago to much fanfare but the move to the Greens did not work out. Now, the ex-Chelsea midfielder is asking for the club to receive a 3 point deduction as he has not yet been paid his February and March installments.
It is not clear if Essien is asking for the installments or the full amount (which is thought to be in the region of 270,000 Euro). This new points deduction would not affect the 2017-18 season, but it would result in Panathinaikos starting next season 3 points behind before a ball has been kicked. There is also the likelihood the team will have 6 points deducted for failing to obtain a licence, so in total it could potentially be 9 points.
Article 24 (5) of the relevant EPO Regulation allows the club to pay Essien within the next 5 business days in order to avoid this punishment. In response to this, club management has stated that Essien will be paid by the end of this week which means the club would be in the clear, much like the Wemmer situation, where it took the threat of points deductions to make payment.
After the home loss to Xanthi to end the season, Marinos Ouzounidis said his “goodbye” to Panathinaikos. However, a change in ownership can alter his decision. One thing is certain, Panathinaikos fans are united as one in their bid to keep the much-loved manager.
Gate 13 have been chanting Ouzounidis’ name for the last few weeks and organised fans begged him to stay when they approached him after the game. They told him “Stay, please. You kept Panathinaikos upright. You gave us courage this season”.
These sentiments were echoed by club legend Dimitris Saravakos, who took to social media to thank Ouzounidis for everything. Saravakos affirmed his former teammate has “soul, heart and pride”.
Giorgos Donis And Nikos Dabizas Waiting In The Wings
The club has wasted no time in looking for a possible replacement should Ouzounidis follow through on his word and leave. Club management does not want the team to have no manager heading into the new season, even if the Pan Asia takeover occurs.
As a result, Giorgos Donis met with Alafouzos and whilst he still has some reservations, he left the meeting in a positive mood. Nikos Dabizas also met Alafouzos about a return to the club as technical director and Dabizas appears to be keen.
The post of technical director is not a pressing concern and there will be other names thrown in the mix, but it does appear the club is keen to move forward with a Donis and Dabizas combination, regardless of the takeover. The fact that the pair are also keen can only be a good thing.
Squad Starting To Take Shape As Some Players Depart And Others Seek Extensions
On-loan PAOK duo Giannis Mystakidis and Ergys Kace have taken to social media to confirm their respective departures from Panathinaikos. Kace stated it was his “last game”, thanked Ouzounidis and the fans and wished “all the best for the future”. Mystakidis wrote that “a difficult year has come to an end” and he likewise thanked his teammates, coaches and fans.
Christos Donis made a similar Instagram post which led to many believing he would also be headed for the exit door. However, since then new developments have emerged and the midfielder-turned-striker met with club management on Tuesday. That went well and talks will resume on Thursday where he is expected to be offered a new deal to stay. Good timing considering his father is the frontrunner to takeover as manager… Christos Donis will also be present at Agrinio on the sidelines for the U17 final against Olympiakos, cheering on the Academy players.
Consequently, club management has now turned its attention to keeping Robin Lod. The Finnish midfielder was very impressive again this season and is off contract. This means he is free to look elsewhere and given his form he would not have any problems in finding a new club. The club is aware of the impending penalty it faces when it comes to signing foreigners over 23, so they want to beat the deadline of Friday and will use that loophole as a way of tying down Lod early as they want to make him a key member of the squad.
There were also reports linking Anthony Mounier with a move away but the player himself has quashed these rumours. He still remains thankful for the opportunity the club gave him when no one else took a punt on him when he was injured last summer and gave him a 3 year contract. In news that will warm Panathinaikos fans’ hearts, the French winger claimed he would be the “last to leave if the situation does not change”. This is exactly the type of attitude all squad members will need to have moving forward to build on the togetherness fostered by Ouzounidis.
Emanuel Insua is another who appears to be keen on staying. The Argentine fullback is naturally worried about the club’s off-field situation but has settled in nicely in Greece and is satisfied with the club. Omri Altman also wants to repay the faith shown in him by the club. The news linking his compatriots Pini Zahavi and Avram Grant to the club would only make him happier.
Guillermo Molins took to Twitter to bid an emotional farewell and he is now a free agent. Ousmane Coulibaly wants to leave but does not want to file an appeal against the club and will not ask for any money. Mattias Johansson is currently on the fence. The Swede enjoyed a productive second half of the season but has grown tired at the lack of professionalism displayed by the club. Luciano will definitely leave if there is no change in ownership as he is on a large contract and Alafouzos is not prepared to keep him on such a deal. He would consequently look for a move to his native Brazil.