SPORTS

Hot picks on the transfer market

PORTO – Unheralded a month ago, Greek players are suddenly Europe’s hottest soccer commodities and many of the national squad at Euro 2004 are eyeing lucrative moves abroad. Scouts from top European clubs are expected at tonight’s semifinal against the Czech Republic after flooding Greek reporters covering the team with calls over the past 10 days. «Our aim was to show the world what Greek players can do, to make the players and the team known to the world,» goalkeeper Antonis Nikopolidis said. «We wanted to show them what kind of football we can play,» he added. Domestic Greek soccer is in disarray because of huge financial, organizational and crowd problems, and many of the squad are eager to get away. Eight of the 23-man unit, the first to beat both the hosts and the reigning champions at the same European tournament, already play for foreign clubs. Yourkas Seitaridis is expected to move to Champions League winners Porto after the tournament. The 23-year-old Panathinaikos defender is reported to have agreed to a three-year deal worth an estimated 3 million euros ($3.6 million). Another defender, Takis Fyssas, already plays in Portugal after moving from Panathinaikos to Benfica. Traianos Dellas, impressive in the center of the back four, was a fringe player at AS Roma last season and should attract transfer interest. Looking at any reasonable offers will be the squad’s five players from AEK, which is trying to avoid financial collapse. Captain Theodoros Zagorakis, Costas Katsouranis, Michalis Kapsis, Vassilis Lakis and Vassilis Tsartas have not been paid in months, and their performances at this tournament will have improved their chances of a move. While 33-year-old Zagorakis is nearing the end of his career, Katsouranis, 25, and Lakis, 28, are ready to take a step up. Any salary cuts proposed by Greece teammate Demis Nikolaidis, who is eyeing the AEK presidency with his group of investors, will now almost certainly be rejected. The club would probably be eager to sell to improve its cash flow. Midfielder Angelos Basinas can expect good news on his return to Panathinaikos, which has been fielding offers for him for months. Defender Nikos Dabizas is also expected to pack his bags following Leicester City’s relegation to England’s first division last season.