Conceicao signs deal with Panathinaikos

Brazilian midfielder Flavio Conceicao has signed a three-year contract with Panathinaikos after a long-awaited transfer. The deal had dominated Greek sports headlines. Turkey’s Galatasaray will get 500,000 euros in compensation for letting the Brazilian leave, reports said, while Conceicao’s annual salary will be 1.5 million euros, according to local reports. The former Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund player was expected to join the Panathinaikos squad last night for pre-season training in Italy. Late last night reports said that Panathinaikos had signed Croatian international Igor Biscan, who was crowned European champion with Liverpool last May. In other transfer news at Panathinaikos, reports released yesterday noted that Argentinean striker Javier Saviola, who spent last season with Monaco on loan from Barcelona, met in Athens with the Greek club’s boss Yiannis Vardinoyiannis about a possible transfer. The website of local sports newspaper Sportime contended that negotiations had reached an advanced stage. A Spanish sports newspaper, Marca, noted that there was «talk in Greece about Saviola establishing contact with Panathinaikos,» while adding that the player’s «future remained a mystery.» Should a deal with Panathinaikos proceed, it would serve as an antidote for infuriated club fans following Wednesday’s loss of striker Michalis Constantinou to archrival Olympiakos. Previous transfer rumors had linked Saviola, who enjoys far greater international status than Constantinou, with Olympiakos. The 23-year-old Argentinean international, who performed impressively with his national team at the recent Confederations Cup in Germany, prompted the interest of several clubs following news that Barcelona was no longer including him in its future plans. Upon his return from the one-year tenure at Monaco, Saviola was informed of the club’s position by Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard. Saviola’s contract with Barcelona expires in 2007. Besides Espanol and Panathinaikos, Deportivo La Coruna, Real Betis, Sevilla and English club Middlesborough have all reportedly expressed some interest in Saviola. Meanwhile, at reigning Greek champion Olympiakos, club president Socrates Kokkalis yesterday presented the Piraeus team’s latest batch of signings, including Constantinou, who signed a three-year deal worth 800,000 euros per annum. «This is a new chapter in my career, I don’t want to deal with the past. I’ve joined a team that wanted to sign me very much, which fully satisfied me,» Constantinou said. The Cypriot striker, who, according to insiders, wanted to move from Panathinaikos as a result of a personal matter linked to the club, had previously declared that archrival Olympiakos was out of the question. During yesterday’s presentation, Kokkalis, alluding to Constantinou, last season’s top scorer at Panathinaikos, remarked: «We’ve acquired players that troubled us in the past. Now, they will trouble our opponents.» 

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