French star Cisse not on Panathinaikos flight

08 July 2011 04:00

French striker Djibril Cisse's likely transfer to Italian club Lazio moved one step closer when he was left out of the 27-member Panathinaikos squad which departed for training in Austria on Friday.

Officials of the Athens club did not comment on Cisse remaining in Greece but earlier in the day Cisse bid farewell to his teammates after taking part in morning training.

"Thank you all for your support. At Panathinaikos I began once again my career. Do what you can to gain the championship. I will be at your side and will come to see you when I can," Cisse told his teammates.

The 29-year-old leading scorer the last two seasons in the Greek Super League is reportedly ready to sign with Lazio with a four-year contract giving him 2.1 million euros yearly.

"(Cisse) has always been our top target, but first we need one of our strikers to find another team," said Lazio coach Edy Reja on Thursday.

"Usually I only talk about players who have officially been transferred, but if he does come, we'll have a player capable of making a difference."

Greek press reports said financially-troubled Panathinaikos will earn 6 million euros for the transfer, to be paid off in the next three years.

Cisse, who is also being tracked by English club Bolton Wanderers, has been a huge success at Panathinaikos in the two years since his arrival from Marseille, helping them to win the domestic league and cup double in 2010.

Cisse scored 51 goals in 82 matches, earning a recall to the France team for the 2010 World Cup, and is best known for his three goals last year in Europa League action against Roma -- Lazio's biggest rivals -- which knocked the mighty Italians out of the competition.

However the inability of Panathinaikos to keep paying such a high salary to Cisse -- 2.5 million euros a year, plus bonuses -- and the need to pay off many of its debts led the club to release the French star and other high-earning players.

In June 2009 Cisse, who includes Liverpool and Sunderland among his former clubs, signed a four-year contract with the Athens club in what was the most expensive transfer in the country's soccer history.

Press reports said his move from Marseille cost the Greek club a total of 20 million euros.

Source: AFP

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