SAMPDORIA are closing in on a deal for former Celtic striker Georgios Samaras, writes Mark Walker.
The Greek forward impressed at the World Cup, alerting clubs in Europe after the Scottish champions failed to extend his seven-year stay in Glasgow.
Sevilla, Everton, Besiktas and Hamburg have all been linked with the player.
But Serie A side Sampdoria have jumped to the front of the queue and reports in Italy have indicated the Genoa club have begun negotiations with 29-year-old.
Samaras helped Greece to their best ever World Cup display and scored an injury-time penalty winner against Ivory Coast to send them through to the knockout stage.
New Celtic manager Ronny Deila had suggested a possible return to Parkhead for the striker but that now looks unlikely.
Deila watched Celtic conclude their pre-season training camp in Austria with a goalless draw against Dukla Prague on Friday and will not turn his attention to his first competitive match in charge, the Champions League qualifier against KR Reykjavik in Iceland on Tuesday.
Defender Efe Ambrose is due back in Scotland today following his exertions at the World Cup with Nigeria. Deila said: “Efe is a quality player and we need all the quality we can get when it comes to the Champions League, although there is a chance for everyone to impress.”
Celtic won two and drew two of their four matches in Austria, leaving the Celtic manager reasonably satisfied. He was pleased with his strikers and was able to rotate Anthony Stokes, Leigh Griffiths, Teemu Pukki and Tony Watt, who has returned after a season on loan to Belgians Lierse.
“I think Anthony has played well,” Deila said. “We took the decision to rest Leigh and Teemu against Dukla Prague because they had some time against Linz but I think all the strikers are looking sharp.
“I felt Tony was a good sub too. He came on and looked busy and he has been training hard and is much fitter than he has been but there is still more to come from him. It’s all positive for now.”