Celtic boss Neil Lennon has taken his Scottish champions-elect off to Turkey with the future of Georgios Samaras top of his priority list as they enjoy a mid-season break from domestic action.
The Bhoys edged closer to retaining their title with a five star performance in a 4-0 win at St. Mirren on Sunday.
But it was the future of Greek international Samaras that dominated the headlines as they left for warmer climes and a tournament in Istanbul without the injured striker.
The 28-year-old former Manchester City striker is out of contract at the end of the season and has yet to take up a new offer from Celtic to extend his five-year stay in Glasgow,
Lennon wants Samaras to stay but admits he could lose him with a number of Premier League clubs and foreign outfits interested in his services.
The Celtic boss said, “Georgios has a bit of time to think about his future. He won’t be coming to Turkey, he will be staying to have some treatment and hopefully we will have an answer one way or the other on his future when we come back.
“It’s not about money, it’s never been top of his agenda. It’s where he sees himself playing for the next three or four years.
“We can’t do anything about a competitive league but we can give him the European experience and those nights at Parkhead are difficult to find elsewhere.
“He could have gone before he signed his last contract and earned much more money, and he didn’t. He loves the club and he loves the city, but there are mitigating factors as to why he hasn’t signed and why we haven’t come to a deal.
“He’s an intelligent boy. He does think deeply and he is very knowledgeable about the game. He has vast international experience with Greece and losing a player such as him would be a real blow to us. He’d be hard to replace and I can see why there are clubs interested in him.
“If he does go — and we’ll probably know in the next week — we will need to work hard to find a like-for-like replacement, and these types cost a lot of money.”
Kris Commons took the scoring honors again with two goals in the win at St. Mirren, and Lennon was quick to compare the midfielder to Hoops hero Lubomir Moravcik after the game that also saw Anthony Stokes and Charlie Mulgrew on the scoresheet.
“His goal return is fantastic and it would be interesting to see how many assists he has had in his time here. Kris is 30 but has three, four, five good years in him and he is getting better,” Lennon said.
“I make comparisons with Lubo. I know Lubo was a magician. Kris is a little bit more direct but he is dynamite with both feet, intelligent, his movement is very good and is technically our best player, probably as Lubo was back in the day.
“He probably hasn’t got the natural skills that Lubo has but he is certainly more of a goal threat than Lubo was.”