SPORTS

Saviola rejects Panathinaikos offer over league concerns

Following more than a month of speculation over whether Argentinean soccer star Javier Saviola would move to Panathinaikos from Barcelona, the player’s agent announced yesterday that the 25-year-old had rejected the prospect because of his concerns over Greek league competition standards. «We discussed the matter with Panathinaikos on Wednesday night and informed them of Javier’s decision. The reasons are not financial but clearly game-related,» the player’s agent, Alfredo Cabrerra, told Greek media. «The offer made by Panathinaikos truly honors Saviola. The interest shown by Panathinaikos, a club with tradition, flatters him, but he has chosen to play in Spain or in another more competitive league. He considers that, at present, the conditions are not favorable for him to play in Greece,» the agent added. Although Saviola remained silent from the day Panathinaikos announced it had submitted an offer, it appears likely that the Argentine international had made up his mind about not moving to Greece from the onset, 38 days ago. Some local pundits contended that the silence over the offer submitted by Panathinaikos, worth 3 million euros, was tactical with the aim of attracting other bids from bigger European leagues. Saviola does not appear to have received any offers that match or top the one by Panathinaikos. Even so, the club must now turn its attention elsewhere in its effort to bolster its squad. Panathinaikos, which ended third in the Greek first division last season, has grown desperate to re-establish itself as a leading force after almost a decade of domination in domestic competition by archrival Olympiakos.