Ponce close to joining AEK on loan, large bid for Barkas rejected
In need of adding depth to a weakened squad, AEK Athens are scanning the transfer market, allegedly close to signing Argentinian forward Ezequiel Ponce.
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21-year old striker Ezequiel Ponce, who played the entire 2017/2018 campaign on loan at Lille from AS Roma, has been heavily linked with AEK, with the Argentinian reportedly about to join the Enosis as a loanee. With Roma willing to send Ponce out on another loan for the upcoming season, AEK have decided to seize the opportunity, eager to pinch the forward before a different team makes a move.
According to various reports, AEK and AS Roma have agreed upon a season’s loan with a purchase option of around five million euros. The Enosis will cover 50% of his contract worth 1.2 million and all that remains to seal the deal is Marinos Ouzounidis’ approval.
Ponce is due to be brought in as to replace fellow Argentine Sergio Araujo. However, Ponce will have to work on his goalscoring ability, only scoring twice in 28 Ligue 1 appearances with Lille this season. Having progressed through the Newell’s Old Boys academy, he initially joined AS Roma in 2015, later playing on loan at Granada and Lille.
After the loss of influential centre-back Ognjen Vranjes to Anderlecht, the Kitrinomavri are on the lookout for a new defender, making enquiries to Swedish club Hammarby concerning the availability of 26-year old Bjorn Paulsen. Recently, the media reported that AEK have given Hammarby a proposal for the Dane and are awaiting a response. A key figure for Hammarby, Paulsen has scored one goal and made two assists in 11 Allsvenskan matches so far, currently in the form of his life. Paulsen would probably cost AEK one million and is attracting interest from plenty of clubs.
Alongside Paulsen, AEK are also considering moving for Internacional defender Rodrigo Moledo, the ex-Panathinaikos centre-back. Allegedly, Moledo met with AEK technical director Nikos Liberopoulos, but when asked on the topic, he refused to confirm (or deny) that a meeting took place. In an interview published on Sport24.gr, Moledo commented on his desire to return to Greece: “I want to come back to Greece, but it’s not in my hands. The media are stating that I will either be an Olympiacos or AEK player. I spent two years at Panathinaikos and I like Athens, I feel good living there. Personally, I think it would be easier to make a transfer in January because it’s hard to leave Internacional now.”
Previously, Moledo was mentioned in transfer rumours with Olympiacos, although those stories have quietened in recent weeks.
POSSIBLE MOVES FOR OGU AND CAMPBELL
A strengthening option for the midfield appears to be 30-year old Nigerian John Ogu. On the books of Hapoel Beer Sheva in Israel, Ogu is an attack minded midfielder, selected to represent Nigeria at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. Impressed by his talent, AEK have spoken to Hapoel Beer-Sheva, hungry to find common ground with the Israelis. In the 2017/2018 season, he played in a grand total of 31 matches across all competitions, contributing with two goals. His market value at Transfermarkt is rated at 1.5 million.
In the media, reports have stated that AEK are keen on taking former Olympiacos forward Joel Campbell on loan from English giants Arsenal, but Genoa have expressed interest in the Costa Rica international and it’s unlikely that the Enosis will be able to sign the striker. Still, AEK haven’t given up and still harbour hope of signing Campbell.
LARGE BID FOR BARKAS REJECTED
Early in the month, 24-year old goalkeeper Vasilis Barkas extended his AEK contract through to 2022, but all of a sudden Italian side Udinese have come calling. Udinese, the team which still owns Orestis Karnezis, have offered AEK six million for Barkas, but club owner Dimitris Melissanidis stated that he will only consider bids closer to 10 million. Taking into account the departure of goaltender Giannis Anestis, it would take a large amount to somehow convince a reluctant AEK to sell one of their prized possessions.
Elsewhere, experienced midfielder Panagiotis Kone, on loan from Udinese, still hasn’t made a final decision on where to continue his career and Erik Moran could be on his way out of Athens.