Name: Georgios Samaras
Current club: Celtic
Position: Left Midfield/Striker
Most Recent Transfer Fee: €2million
Expected Transfer fee: €Bosman
There are few greater enigmas in football than the Greek Gazelle, gorgeous Georgios Samaras. Signed by Gordon Strachan in 2008, his Celtic career has been something of a rollercoaster ride.
Samaras was plucked from the Greek island of Crete at the age of 16 by Herenveen. The Dutch side has a long history of developing striking talent, and Samaras quickly made the breakthrough to the first team. His form in the Eredivisie made him one of the most revered forwards in Europe, and the striker was linked with a host of top clubs. For a while it seemed like Arsenal would be his destination but it was Manchester City who he chose to sign for after 5 years in Holland.
Struggles At City
Sammy made the move to Manchester City for £6million and his first six months were reasonably successful, with the Greek hitman grabbing four goals in his first six games. The following season saw him struggle, however, as Stuart Pearce’s tenure in charge of the club quickly spiralled into the sort of disaster that Manchester City are famous for. Samaras was singled out by the manager for criticism as he struggled to adapt to the English game. The Greek International quickly found himself out of favour and when Sven Goran Eriksson took charge, following Pearce’s dismissal, he did not manage to win favour with his new coach.
When he was played, usually in the unfashionable league cup, he did on a number of occasions find the net but by now he had been judged as unfit for the Premier League, and his languid style had not one him many admirers. His future was out with Manchester, and although he had a number of offers to stay in England, he decided to move north of the border to Celtic, initially on loan, but soon on a permanent basis.
As with his initial period at Manchester City, Samaras made an immediate impact at Celtic. He scored on his debut, an impressive goal against Kilmarnock in a 5-1 victory, and played a major role in Celtic’s improbable come from behind title victory, taking the title from Rangers on the final day of the season. From then on in, Samaras showed the kind of erratic form that divides opinions on him, one week performing to an extremely high level, and the next resembling the second coming of Wayne Biggins. Just when he was about to be written off, he would produce something of genius, such as his double at Ibrox in 2011, or his sensational run of European form last season that saw him score goals in five consecutive away matches.
At some point during the Mowbray season, Samaras was moved out to wide left midfield and under Neil Lennon he has been most often utilised in this position. This gave him a new lease of life at Celtic; he has produced the kind of performances that Celtic shouldn’t be able to afford. It’s his inconsistency that has thus far kept him in Scotland.
When he’s good, he’s irresistible, when he’s bad……you want to wash your hands of him.
Despite the irregularity of his performances, it seems that a soon to be out of contract Georgios Samaras has a number of admirers. Neil Lennon has publically called on him to make his mind up about his future, but he has thus far resisted calls to sign a new deal. Samaras has been linked with a move to a few of the Premier League also-rans, but most interestingly, he has reputedly been targeted by La Liga pacesetters Atletico Madrid, with boss Diego Simeone apparently viewing the Greece international as an ideal impact substitute. It would be interesting to see how he fared in the Spanish top flight.
I feel that Samaras would benefit from having more space to play with, as shown by his success in Europe, as he definitely struggles against the packed defences in Scotland. It certainly would be an interesting move, if there is anything to the speculation.
So Long Sammy?
I’ve been one of Samara’s most vocal supporters over the years. Even in his lean periods, I felt that the criticism was largely undeserved. Criticism of him tends to be generic statements about how lazy he is, parroted by people who don’t really watch him closely. In saying that, there are few players who can frustrate as much as he does, and when things do not go for him early on you can usually predict that he will not have an impact on proceedings. As much as it pains me to say this, it’s probably a good time for him to leave.
Overall, I feel he has been a great servant for the club and is definitely a player I look upon fondly. He has been here for a number of years though and a new challenge might be of benefit to him. I have a feeling he may be of this opinion as well, though he could possibly wait until the summer to move (an impressive World Cup could open up a host of new opportunities).
As the club begin to plan for another assault on Europe next season, they may have to face up to planning for life without Samaras.