Australian youth International Panos Armenakas is chasing first team football on loan to Belgian second division club AFC Tubize after three seasons with Udinese’s U19 squad.
He came within touching distance of a Serie A first team debut during Armenakas's third campaign in Italy, however circumstances beyond his control thwarted the classy attacker.
Last season the 18-year old made his senior debut for Udinese in a pre-season 3-1 friendly win over Olimpija Ljublana.
Then in round six of the Serie A season, Armenakas made the first team squad for the first time as an unused substitute away to Sassuolo.
The following week Udinese took on Juventus and a dream Serie A debut looked possible until the club dismissed the head coach – and the teenager was consigned to the youth team for the rest of the season.
Now the move to AFC Tubize, who finished fifth in Belgium’s Eerste Klasse B last season, is all about playing senior football, said the 18-year-old.
“I chose to go on loan to AFC Tubize – a club who have aspirations to be promoted to the first division because I believe I can grow and develop into a better player,” Armenakas told FourFourTwo.
“I recently met with the club’s key personnel, including the team manager and was very impressed with the way they work with young players and how they plan to work with me.”
Armenakas hopes to use this year to build on last season's campaign for Udinese’s Primavera side where he scored eight, with another six assists in 25 matches.
Those numbers were the best of any of the Bianconeri Friuliani youth team's attacking players over the last three seasons
But the attacking midfielder said it was still difficult to break into Udinese’s senior men's squad, despite his impressive form.
“Even with those types of stats, it is more than challenging to crack regular Italian first team football,” Armenakas said.
“Unless you are at a club which has a very strong and committed philosophy to integrating their best young players into their first team, the alternative is for loan deals for the better Primavera players of Serie A clubs, therefore moves like mine are very common.
The 18-year-old added: “Unlike many other European leagues, in Italy there is no U23s league or Serie A B-teams playing in Serie B or even Serie C.
“The gap from U20s Primavera where I was playing for the last three seasons is massive compared to regular Serie A or even Serie B football."
The 2017-18 Belgian second division season kicks off on August 5 with AFC Tubize taking on SV Roeselare at home, the same day as Armenakas' 19th birthday.