Toronto set sights on swoop for Georgios Samaras

Georgios Samaras has emerged as a summer target for MLS side Toronto. Picture: SNS Group
Georgios Samaras has emerged as a summer target for MLS side Toronto. Picture: SNS Group
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GEORGIOS Samaras has emerged as a shock transfer target for big-spending MLS side Toronto FC.

The Greek striker is out of contract at the end of the season at Celtic.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon has told the former Manchester City forward that he wants him to tie up a new deal as soon as possible.

But he’s been targeted by ambitious Canadian side Toronto FC, who have him as one of three main summer transfer targets, according to reports in North America.

Samaras would be free to discuss terms with Toronto from the start of next month, although the club are also keen on Brazilian ace Gilberto Oliveira Souza as an alternative, with the Portuguese hitman one of his homeland’s leading scorers.

Their main marquee signing target looks certain to be Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe, if they can persuade him that playing in the MLS won’t harm his World Cup chances.

Samaras has stated he wants to remain at Parkhead, but could be tempted by a huge salary and an attractive lifestyle in Canada. Now Lennon will be keen to sort out the 28-year-old’s future as soon as possible.

There were also reports in Wales yesterday that Cardiff City are prepared to use their Celtic connections to lure midfielder Joe Ledley back to his hometown club.

Manager Malky Mackay, a former Celtic defender, sent the Premier League club’s chief scout, Tommy Johnson – who played under six different managers at Parkhead – to run the rule over the 26-year-old during Friday’s 5-0 win at Motherwell.

The Wales international was one of Lennon’s first signings after he was confirmed as Celtic’s manager in 2010, joining from Cardiff on a Bosman after losing out to Blackpool in the Premier League play-off final.

However, with Cardiff finally winning promotion to the top flight last season, a return to the Cardiff City Stadium would hold more appeal for the 26-year-old.

Ledley is out of contract at the end of the season and has yet to agree terms on a new deal to keep him in Glasgow.

Meanwhile, Bahrudin Atajic reckons his first ever goal for the Hoops was payback for the faith shown in him by Lennon.

The Bosnian striker netted his first strike for the champions in the 5-0 romp at Motherwell.

Atajic, 20, has been tipped for a big future after Celtic snapped him up from Malmo three years ago, and he was delighted to finally get off the mark for the Parkhead side.

He said: “That goal was dedicated to those who believed in me and supported me. Especially for my father, mother, sister and brother. And also for the coach, Neil Lennon.

“I hope by scoring I justified the confidence he has shown in me. I am grateful that I am starting to get a chance to show what I can do.

“Hopefully, by scoring in that game it will be give me more opportunities in coming games too.

“We created lots of chances and played great, especially in the second half.

“For my goal, I got a great pass from Anthony Stokes which made it easy for me to lob the goalkeeper.

“Now I hope I can score plenty more goals at Celtic.”