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Olympiakos proposes lucrative deal to Panathinaikos star striker Lymberopoulos

Panathinaikos’s star striker Nikos Lymberopoulos, the Greek first division’s top scorer with a round of play remaining, has received a lucrative offer from archrival Olympiakos for a transfer to the Piraeus club next season, a reliable source told Kathimerini yesterday. Also yesterday, in a development linked to Panathinaikos’s heavy loss against Olympiakos last weekend, a group of enraged fans caused damage at the club’s training facilities in Paeania, east of Athens. According to the source, a club official closely linked to Olympiakos President Socrates Kokkalis had approached the player about four weeks ago, ahead of last weekend’s vital clash between the two sides, and offered a remuneration package worth almost double the striker’s current deal with Panathinaikos, which expires at the end of this season. No other offers are believed to have been made to the player. Lymberopoulos has been offered an annual sum worth nearly 900,000 euros, the source said. At Panathinaikos, the striker is currently on a 500,000 euro per year package, plus bonuses worth approximately 150,000 euros each season. As the dispirited Panathinaikos players regrouped for a training session yesterday, a group of some 250 fans, disappointed by their team’s 3-0 defeat against Olympiakos last Sunday, which virtually eradicated their hopes for this season’s league title, threatened players and officials outside the club’s training facilities late yesterday afternoon. Some forced their way through a police cordon to cause extensive damage to facilities and luxury cars belonging to team players. Both the Panathinaikos club and the 15 policemen on the premises were stunned by yesterday’s unprecedented outbreak of hatred by fans against their own team’s players and officials. Riot police had to be called in. Teenage boys, who participate in Panathinaikos’s soccer academy and are housed on the premises, frantically rushed from their dormitory rooms when fans burst in, seeking refuge on the building’s terrace. The players barricaded themselves in the locker room and the fans turned their anger on journalists and photographers, a couple of whom were badly beaten; others were chased into nearby fields. Several TV and radio journalists made live reports while running away and panting from the effort. Thirty people were detained by police. Amid all the bedlam, the announcement by coach Sergio Markarian that he was leaving the team at the end of the season went almost unnoticed by the fans. Markarian, who lost only last Sunday’s match in his two stints with Panathinaikos, this and last season, essentially has jumped before he was pushed. At the time of writing, it was assumed that the enraged fans had not yet been informed of Olympiakos’s interest in signing Lymberopoulos, which would probably incite further rage. Few players have transferred from one crosstown rival to the other, and mostly from Olympiakos to Panathinaikos. In almost all cases, the player who «defected» earned the everlasting hate of the hardcore fans of his previous team.