An emotional Dimitrios Kourbelis has announced his exit from Panathinaikos though the Rangers linked midfielder looks more likely to end up in Turkey rather than at Ibrox. 

Not so long ago, it seemed that a new contract for the Greek international would be a formality.

Dimitrios Kourbelis was playing some of the best football of his career for a Panathinaikos side who, in the spring, looked to be swaggering towards their first Super League title in over a decade. 

At the time, you’d have got long odds on captain Kourbelis bidding a tear-stained farewell just three months later; leaving in the aftermath of a four-match winless run which saw Panathinakos’ eventually stumble to a second-place finish behind AEK Athens. 

Bayer 04 Leverkusen v Panathinaikos - Pre-Season Friendly
Photo by Roland Krivec/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Rangers linked Dimitrios Kourbelis is leaving Panathinaikos

“It’s time to say goodbye. (This is) difficult and emotionally charged. It couldn’t be any other way, as Panathinaikos is an important part of both my career and my life,” Kourbelis writes, his contract expiring this month. 

“And that’s not going to change. (The club) gave me a lot, supported me in difficult times, helped me become a better player, and a more mature person. I am grateful to have been a member and a leader of such a great team.

“Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever. Especially in football. The time has come for a new challenge.”

According to Greek publication SDNA, the 29-year-old skipper had initially been identified as a bargain signing for a Rangers side looking to close the gap to a now-managerless Celtic side at the top of the Premiership table. 

Mick Beale and co turned their attention to Kieran Dowell and Jose Cifuentes during the time in which Kourbelis looked destined to put pen to paper on a new deal at Panathinaikos, however. And now, with Dowell in and Cifuentes likely to join him, the Good Ship Ibrox appears to have raised it’s anchor and sailed off over the horizon as far as Kourbelis is concerned. 

Greek reporter Giannis Chorianopolous believes that the 30-cap, former Asteris Tripolis playmaker could now end up in Turkey instead with 2022 Super Lig champions Trabzonspor.

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