Greece captain Giorgos Karagounis will join Melbourne Victory if advanced negotiations play out as expected over the coming weeks, according to The Age. Ange Postecoglous met with the 36-year-old midfielder in Athens to convince him to join the Victory for the 2013/14 season. Were Karagounis to complete a move to Melbourne, the Victory's midfield pairing with newly retained Mark Milligan would offer among the top combinations in the A-League.
The biggest selling point for Karagounis is possibility of playing the 'Del Piero role' among the massive Greek population in Melbourne, just as Del Piero has done with the Italian population of Sydney over the past nine months. The choice will likely come down to a third spell with Panathinaikos, with whom Karagounis has played 250 games in two separate periods with the Athenian club, or a bold move for big money in Melbourne. Given Del Piero's success at Sydney, and to a lesser extent Shinji Ono's at Western Sydney Wanderers, the template is well set for such a transfer.
Karagounis spent 2012/13 at Fulham after he was released by Panathinaikos in September. He featured twenty-one times at Craven Cottage but was not part of the club's plans for next season and was told he would not be offered a new contract. That leaves the midfielder with 125 Greek caps as a free agent, available to sign for big money but without the Victory needing to send a transfer fee. That scenario is identical to Del Piero's signing last season.
The only question for the Victory would be the distribution of cash between Karagounis and the club's two Marquee Players last season, Archie Thompson and Marcos Flores. With the latter entering the second year of a two-year contract worth $1m, it is unlikely that Flores would be able or willing to budge. The Victory could remove the Marquee status from Archie Thompson, though that would likely require a pay cut for the club's greatest player who is also in the final year of his deal. The only other possibility is asking Karagounis to sign a similar deal to Harry Kewell's at Melbourne Heart, assigning only minimal salary from the club but using sponsorships and incentives to guarantee big money for the Greek midfielder.
Perhaps that quandary is what has prevented an announcement to this point, or maybe Karagounis is thinking through all his options in what would be one of his final stops in a storied career. Karagounis did play 90 minutes for Greece at Lithuania in 2014 World Cup qualifying yesterday.