Key striker set to go

Greek international striker Angelos Charisteas, who appears to have fallen from grace at his German club Werder Bremen – the runaway leader in this season’s Bundesliga that had signed the player for a club record fee two seasons ago – is determined to go, a German publication quoted the player as saying. «I’m not going to stay under any circumstances. I see that I’m no longer being given opportunities, so I’d like to continue my career at another club,» Charisteas, a regular starter at Werder Bremen last season, told the German sports magazine Kicker. The team’s coach, Thomas Schaaf, expressed understanding over the Greek striker’s frustration, but claimed that Charisteas remained an integral member of the team, despite his lack of playing time this season. «I understand that Charisteas is not happy because he’s not playing. It would be disastrous for him if he were happy. He should know that he’s part of our plans,» said Schaaf, whose team is comfortably perched at the top of the Bundesliga, seven points ahead of second-placed Bayern Munich, well into the season’s second half. If, however, Charisteas does eventually succeed in transferring to another club, he will need to overcome strong resistance from the club’s administration. Board member Klaus Allofs, a former player with the club, said Werder Bremen was determined to hold on to Charisteas. «For us, his leaving the club doesn’t even stand as an issue. We’ve informed him and made it very clear to ‘Harry’ over recent days that we’re counting on him,» Allofs said. «Let’s also remind that the Greek striker was the most expensive signing ever for the Greens [Werder],» he added. The 24-year-old Charisteas, a key member of the Greek national squad preparing to compete at this summer’s European Championships with German coach Otto Rehhagel at the helm, transferred to Werder Bremen from the Thessaloniki club Aris in July 2002. He scored nine goals in his first Bundesliga season last year to quickly earn a reputation as a goal-hungry striker.