Bajevic back with old love

Dusan Bajevic’s return to AEK, the club where he had basked in fame as Greece’s most successful soccer coach in recent years, was bolstered yesterday by star striker Demis Nikolaidis’s decision to remain with the club. The player’s departure would not have gone down well with fans who felt betrayed by Bajevic’s move to Olympiakos in the mid-1990s. Bajevic has made clear that his willingness to retain Nikolaidis was not a populist move aimed at re-establishing ties with AEK’s fans, but based on his belief in the player’s qualities. The Serb-Greek coach, who has not yet signed his contract with AEK, led the team to four titles as a coach between 1988 and 1994 after serving as a player in the late 1970s. His move to the bigger and richer Olympiakos club, which won three consecutive league titles under his guidance between 1997 and 1999, had upset AEK fans. Bajevic’s return follows a two-year spell with PAOK, which he led to last year’s Greek Cup and fourth place in this season’s league. Bajevic is expected to sign a three-year deal worth 600,000 euros annually, believed to be less than the amount he would have secured by either remaining with PAOK or transferring to Panathinaikos, which had also expressed interest.