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Hull ponder Samaras bid as Celtic look to the future

HULL CITY are expected to test Celtic's desire to hold on to Georgios Samaras by tabling a £1m bid for the Greek forward.

There has been no progress in negotiations with Georgios Samaras' representatives
There has been no progress in negotiations with Georgios Samaras' representatives

Samaras is out of contract at the end of the season and negotiations regarding an extension have so far proved unproductive. According to reports on Humberside that impasse has alerted Hull, who will now try to sign the 28 year-old early in the transfer window.

Steve Bruce's side have exceeded expectations in their first season back in the Barclays Premier League and currently sit in 10th place having won their last match against Fulham 6-0. However, Bruce is thought to be keen to add extra firepower to his attack given that their top scorer, Robbie Brady, has just four goals this season. It is hoped Samaras, although an out-and-out striker, would be able to make a sizeable contribution on that front.

Celtic have already made it clear they are reluctant to lose any of their out-of-contract players for nothing in the summer and may decide to move Samaras on in January. The Greek has struggled to recapture his form of last season and could be tempted by the prospect of a return to England having previously spent two seasons with Manchester City. Samaras' departure would likely expedite the Parkhead club's recruitment of forward players, although they look set to be thwarted in their pursuit of two potential targets.

Manager Neil Lennon is thought to be keen on Mamoud Hassan - known as Trezeguet - but the Egyptian has been told by his club Al Ahly that he will not be allowed to leave this month. The 19 year-old handed in a transfer request recently in the hope of pushing through a deal with the Scottish champions but it is claimed a compromise has been reached that will let him depart in the summer.

Mohammad Yousuf, the Al Ahly coach, said: "Trezeguet will not be allowed to leave in January. He is too important a player for us. We have told him to keep progressing and there will be a chance to move to Europe in the summer. I hope that is an end to the matter."

The prospect of rising Chinese star Zhang Xizhe moving to Parkhead this month has also dwindled. Peter Lawwell, the Celtic chief executive, labelled the Beijing Guoan player "a phenomenal talent" during a visit to China late last year, and revealed that the club were keen to bring the 22- year-old to Scotland on trial with a view to him possibly signing. Celtic, however, are not the only European club to have designs on the midfielder and that has led to his club insisting they do not want to sell the player, and certainly not for anything less than £4m. That may prove to be out of Celtic's price range.

"Zhang is not for sale as far as we are concerned," said his manager Aleksandar Stanojevic. "It would take an offer of £4m just for us to even consider it. We are in the process of building a team and bringing in new players. He's a very big part of that and he won't be leaving us."

Lawwell had been quite taken with the player. "He is an intelligent player and left a profound impression on us," he said at the time. "We were in China to explore live TV coverage and we are interested in the local market. In addition, we wanted to look at Zhang and have a better understanding of him. He is a phenomenal player and he is very hopeful of getting a place in the Celtic squad. Next year, we will return to Beijing to discuss matters relating to business cooperation and when the time is right, we will invite Zhang to join the team."

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