Three of Greece’s most famous footballers could be playing semi-professional football in Australia next season as Sydney Olympic are on the cusp of signing Euro 2004 winners Angelos Charisteas and Pantelis Kafes plus former national team defensive stalwart Sotirios Kyrgiakos.
Olympic hope to sign them for up to four games each, spread across various stages of the 2014 National Premier League season.
All three have agreed in principle to join Olympic as guest players next year with the view of pursuing A-League contracts.
Kyrgiakos, a centre-back for Liverpool, Panathinaikos and Rangers, is expected to be the first of the three to arrive at Belmore Oval, perhaps as early as late January.
”We’ve had negotiations for the past 2½ weeks and it looks like all three will come at different stages of the season,” Sydney Olympic vice-president Graham Athanaseris said.
The club confirmed it was close to signing a deal with Kyrgiakos but said that it would have to wait until the end of the January transfer period before securing contacts with Kafes and Charisteas.
However, events could make the pair ineligible to play in Australia.
Kafes, a central midfielder, is out of contract, having left Greek club Veria in February. While he had agreed to join Olympic in the latter stages of the 2014 season, he has since attracted some offers to continue his career in Europe.
Charisteas, a former striker for Ajax, Werder Bremen and Schalke, is a free agent, having left Saudi Arabian club Al-Nassr earlier this year.
While he is understood to be eager to play for Olympic on a short-term deal at the start of the season in late March, he, too, might be snapped up by a European club during January.
It is understood that the three players are interested in continuing their careers in Australia and are hoping to attract offers from A-League clubs following their stints with Olympic, if all three do sign with the club.
”They’re coming off some significant contracts and they’re players of value who want that lifestyle,” Athanaseris said. ”It’s a win-win situation.”
A new board has recently taken over at Sydney Olympic and its directors are eager to reestablish the club as a leader in youth development, and to rebuild its stature.
The ambitious bid to sign the three Greek players, who between them have 190 caps for Greece and have scored 32 internationals goals, is being funded by three of the six members of the board.
They helped to send club technical director Arthur Diles on a European scouting mission.
”We’re looking at developing young players coming through our club and want to continue that,” Athanaseris said.
”If we can get three or four marquees to add that experience, it will only benefit the development of our youth.”