Champs bag big names

Greek soccer champions Olympiakos announced yesterday that the Piraeus club was set to sign Serbian striker Darko Kovacevic of Real Sociedad. The club also said it had agreed to sign Real Madrid defender Raul Bravo. Kovacevic, whose contract with Real Sociedad has expired, is expected in Athens either today or tomorrow for medicals ahead of a deal. Kovacevic, 34, spent two periods at Real Sociedad, now relegated to second-tier competition in Spain. The former Red Star Belgrade player first moved to the Spanish team a decade ago for three seasons, before moving to Juventus and then Lazio in Italy. He returned to Real Sociedad in the 2001-2002 season and enjoyed his best spell with the club the following year, scoring 20 goals in 36 games. Real Madrid’s Bravo, according to his manager, has agreed to transfer to Olympiakos. The 26-year-old defender, whose contract with Real Madrid has yet to expire, agreed to a three-year deal and annual fees of between 1.3 and 1.5 million euros. Pundits said the Spanish club would demand between 2 and 3 million euros for the release of Bravo, capped 14 times with Spain. Bravo, who rose through Real Madrid’s junior ranks, made his debut with the Spanish club in the 2001-2002 season. He made eight appearances with Real Madrid last year. In other news at Olympiakos, the club has reportedly turned down an extremely lucrative offer from an unnamed club for striker Nery Castillo, currently starring with Mexico in the Copa America. Reports claimed that Ukranian club Shakhtar Donetsk have offered the Piraeus team 10 million euros for Castillo. There are two years remaining on the player’s contract and Olympiakos is apparently not willing to sell. However, it is likely the club will need to boost Castillo’s annual fees, reportedly worth 500,000 euros.

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