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Steele deal a steal as keeper set to leave for free

By Doug O'Kane, Sports Editor Friday 18th July 2014
Luke Steele.

Luke Steele's pending move to Greek club Panathinaikos is a free transfer due to a release clause in his contract, the Chronicle understands.


The long-serving goalkeeper – who has been training with the Athens side since Wednesday and tweeted that he had joined them – signed a two-year deal with the Reds last summer which contained a clause allowing him to leave for free should Barnsley be relegated from the Championship last season. Steele's agent demanded the inclusion of the release clause after the club insisted on a relegation clause which meant that the goalkeeper's wages would decrease in League One.


Barnsley would have been able to demand a fee if they had offered Steele a significant payrise, a wage level which Panathinaikos have had to meet in order to capture the 29-year-old, who has made 227 appearances for the Reds since signing in 2008.


The 20-time Greek champions and former Uefa Cup finalists, who finished second last season, have offered Steele a two-year deal and want him to be their number one.


He will be their first ever English player and is set to start in their Champions League qualifying matches later this month.


Steele will replace Stefanos Kapino, who has just left for German side Mainz, ironically the same club that signed Heinz Muller in 2009, a move which allowed Steele to become number one.


He has never really relinquished his place between the sticks since apart from during a few injuries and when former manager David Flitcroft dropped him last season on the eve of his 200th match.


Steele made an astonishing debut for the Reds in the FA Cup success at Liverpool in 2008 then, after helping them to the semi-finals while on loan from West Bromwich Albion, signed permanently that summer. Steele has confirmed on Twitter that he is joining the Greek outfit and thanked Barnsley fans for their support.


Adam Davies will be given the chance to claim the number one shirt during pre-season. The 22-year-old signed this summer and has never played a competitive game.