Frank McGarvey: Samaras exit won't be Greek tragedy for Celtic

FRANK McGARVEY says Georgios Samaras has become surplus to requirements at Celtic and believes the striker's likely summer departure should cause fans no concern.

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The Celtic career of Georgios Samaras is petering out
The Celtic career of Georgios Samaras is petering out

The 28-year-old joined Celtic in 2008 from Manchester City and has gone on to score 70 goals in all competitions for the Parkhead club and proven a pivotal performer in the European arena.

But although Samaras has remained in the East End beyond the January transfer window, he was courted by Rubin Kazan, Atletico Madrid and Trabzonspor and, in the summer, the Greek will almost certainly depart under freedom of contract.

Now 1980s Parkhead poacher McGarvey - who played 245 times for Celtic over five years, scoring 113 goals and winning two League Championships, two Scottish Cups and a Scottish League Cup - is adamant that Samaras' departure will not hurt the Hoops too much.

With Samaras having given no indication he is willing to extend his six-year stay with the Scottish champions and the arrival of the predatorial Leigh Griffiths consigning him to the role of bit-part player, the Celtic strike legend has urged Hoops boss Neil Lennon to waste no more time on further talks with the Greek international.

Yet, although Lenny has a strike arsenal that includes Griffiths, Kris Commons, Anthony Stokes, Teemu Pukki and Amido Balde, McGarvey would still like to see another goal threat added in the summer once Samaras sets sail.

McGarvey said: "Sami has done well in the Champions League for Celtic in the past but I think we are now at a stage where there is no room for him at Parkhead.

"He has given no indication that he wants to stay at the club, and as he goes freedom of contract in the summer, it is obvious he will be off and I think Neil probably knows that.

"The other aspect of all this is that Leigh Griffiths has come to the club and immediately started scoring goals. So you have to ask, where does Samaras fit in?

"He is not the type of striker who is going to guarantee you goals and that immediately puts pressure on the guys who are playing alongside him.

"So we are probably now at a stage where the best thing for both parties is for Sami to move on."

Griffiths' arrival has offered Celtic boss Lennon some much needed flexibility up top along with Stokes, Finnish frontman Pukki, Commons, or the hulking presence of Portuguese powerhouse Balde.

All of which has left McGarvey in no doubt that the writing is on the wall for Samaras.

He said: "Clearly there was a fair bit of interest in Samaras in the January window and, if that was the case, then it will be doubly so in the summer when he goes freedom of contract. If you look at Celtic's last three matches then he did not get off the bench against either Inverness or Hearts and came on for the last 13 minutes against Aberdeen.

"When you have been as big a player for Celtic as Samaras has in recent seasons, then that tells you a story of where you are in the grand scheme of things."

He went on: "When you have a guy like Samaras winding down his contract he clearly becomes marginalised.

"That is just football, at any club it is about planning for the future and evolving the team, it is the natural way of things.

"In that respect, I would like to see Celtic add another striker in the summer but they certainly have options up top."

While McGarvey has been mightily impressed with Griffiths, the former Hoops hitman has also reserved a song of praise for Norwegian midfield ace Stefan Johansen, who also arrived in the January window.

He said: "I like Johansen, he is the creative type of midfielder Celtic have needed and has a great left foot.

"Celtic did well to get him and Griffiths in during the window and so have plenty of time to bed them in for the Champions League qualification process in the summer.

"The club and Neil Lennon deserve a lot of credit for that as it is far from easy to attract the type of quality they have in mid-season."

Football

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