Constantinou moves to rivals Olympiakos in three-year deal

Cypriot striker Michalis Constantinou, who had spent the past four seasons with Panathinaikos, has signed a three-year deal with archrival Olympiakos, his new club announced yesterday. In a move that is expected to infuriate Panathinaikos fans, Constantinou becomes the second player to leave the Athens club for Olympiakos in a year. Approximately this time last year, Greece goalkeeper Antonis Nikopolidis also made the move after Panathinaikos refused to meet his elevated price after years spent at the club. As a result, Nikopolidis had to persevere protests from his previous club’s fans. Panathinaikos fans did their utmost to make the international keeper feel unwelcome when Panathinaikos hosted Olympiakos in the Greek league. Each touch of the ball by Nikopolidis generated widespread jeers in the stands. Constantinou, the striker whose contract with Panathinaikos had expired at the end of last season, originally focused his efforts on striking a deal abroad. A handful of German clubs, including Hamburg and Cologne, had apparently expressed some interest in signing the Cypriot, but there was ultimately no final deal. According to insiders, Constantinou, last season’s top scorer at Panathinaikos with 14 goals, wanted to move as a result of a personal matter that was linked with the club. It had been widely rumored for months that the Cypriot was considering Olympiakos as an option for the new season. He had joined Panathinaikos from Thessaloniki club Iraklis in a lucrative deal and swiftly made impact beyond Greece by scoring six Champions League goals in his first season with the Athens club, helping it reach the competition’s quarterfinals. Constantinou slumped midway through his tenure at Panathinaikos but recovered to become a key scorer. Olympiakos yesterday also announced the acquisition of the Ivory Coast’s Yaya Toure, the younger brother of Arsenal’s Kolo Toure. The Piraeus club’s administration said the African had also signed a three-year deal with Olympiakos, but no financial details were provided.

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