Summer of rebuilding begins at Panathinaikos
A summer of rebuilding at Panathinaikos begins as Dabizas seeks to tie down key players, while Coulibaly departs after a three year spell.
Contract renewals are the top priority at the moment in the Panathinaikos camp. Nikos Dabizas has set the 24th of May as the date he wants all outstanding contract talks to end. Only after this will the Greens begin to explore options to bolster the squad for next season.
Dimitris Kolovetsios led the way earlier this year, when he put pen to paper on a new deal to reflect his improved performances. Ousmane Coulibaly has shown his reluctance to sign a new deal right from the beginning and is set to leave. The club intends to keep 20-year-old Vangelis Theocharis, but talks have not yet begun.
Following this, Dabizas will look to players that are still contracted. Locking key players in early is also something else the Technical Director is seeking. As a result, he will meet with the likes of Sokratis Dioudis, Dimitris Kourbelis, Fanis Mavromatis, Emanuel Insua, Christos Donis, Giannis Bouzoukis, Tasos Chatzigiovannis, Dimitris Emmanouilidis, and Christos Sechou.
This season saw Panathinaikos turn to its strong academy to reinforce a thin squad. Consequently, this led to many young talents receiving their first chances to play at a senior level, many on a weekly basis. The club’s hands were tied due to the bleak off-field situation and the penalties imposed, but Bouzoukis and Mavromatis took their chances, and Emmanouilidis, Theocharis, and Kostas Apostolakis made their respective debuts.
Next season, however, these restrictions in the transfer market have been lifted and the club will turn to experience in a bid to genuinely strengthen. Attempting to lure players of such ilk from outside of Greece will start from early June. However, at the same time, youngsters will still be counted on. Sechou and Andreas Athanasakopoulos are set to receive more playing time moving forward.
The Future of Kourbelis
There is no doubting what the captain brings to the team. He has now become a mainstay and the most important player, shielding the back line and starting attacks from deep positions. This has seen him become entrenched in the Ethniki’s starting side.
Kourbelis’ contract runs until December 2020, however, Dabizas wants a new deal signed in the immediate future to help stave off interest from the likes of Strasbourg and Fenerbahce. Dabizas sees Kourbelis as the one player the club can be built around in the medium-term and everyone at the club desperately wants to keep him.
Coulibaly Departs After Three Years
Mali international right back Ousmane Coulibaly has announced he will leave Panathinaikos. The fullback, who joined from Platanias in the summer of 2016, stated that he “wanted to stay” and is “upset” at how it panned out.
The 29-year-old pointed to a breakdown in negotiations as the key factor for his departure. Even though they “went well initially, things did not happen as I had in my mind” he said.
He went to say that he gave his all and thanked the fans for being by the club’s side during the dark times - “I have enjoyed the greatest support I could have from the best fans in the country” he stated.