Olympiakos makes new start with coach Valverde and plans for next year

Olympiakos President Socratis Kokkalis and new soccer coach Ernesto Valverde yesterday began planning the new season for the champions, following the Spaniard’s official presentation in Piraeus on Wednesday. «I have come to the biggest club in Greece, but it definitely has scope for improvement. The team went a long way at the Champions League last season and we want to do the same this year,» said Valverde in his first statements as the Olympiakos manager, with Kokkalis by his side. The two men met at the Olympiakos headquarters along with general director Yiannis Chrysikopoulos, studying the cases of various players, that Olympiakos is considering to buy over the summer transfer window. Among its targets was Aris’s Avraam Papadopoulos, with Olympiakos tabling a 1.2-million-euro offer to the Thessaloniki club, but the latter’s president, Lambros Skordas, turned it down yesterday. Today Valverde is flying back to Spain and will return with his assistants on June 25 to start training with the players. The club has also arranged for its first two friendly games, against SV Hall of Austria’s third division on July 4 and against Poland’s Groclin on July 10. The first friendly at home will be at the Karaiskaki stadium against Spain’s Getafe on July 31. PAOK acquires Ivic After Costas Halkias, PAOK is buying another Aris player this summer. In an unlikely swoop to its crosstown rival, PAOK has reportedly agreed for a two-year contract with Serb striker Vladan Ivic offering him 450,000 euros per year. Aris had offered the player 300,000 euros.