McLeish abandons plan to buy Samaras

January 22, 2008

Birmingham manager Alex McLeish has abandoned plans to sign Manchester City striker Georgios Samaras.

Blues had agreed a £2.5million fee with City for the Greek international who has had only limited opportunities under Sven-Goran Eriksson.

But McLeish has decided to concentrate on trying to strengthen other areas of his team after signing James McFadden from Everton and Mauro Zarate on loan from Al Sadd.

He remains interested in signing Aston Villa centre-back Gary Cahill although an initial bid was rejected by Villa manager Martin O'Neill.

Liam Ridgewell and Rafael Schmitz are currently the only two experienced central defenders at McLeish's disposal.

Radhi Jaidi is on African Nations Cup duty and out-of-favour Martin Taylor has been told he can leave.

McLeish is hoping to hold talks this week with Cahill, whose former Villa team-mate Ridgewell made the switch to St Andrews last summer.

The former Scotland boss is also keen to strengthen in central midfield where again his options are limited to skipper Damien Johnson and Fabrice Muamba.

Mehdi Nafti, out of contract in the summer, is also in action for Tunisia while Neil Danns is deemed surplus to requirements by McLeish.

McLeish said: 'If I can identify the right players I feel can take us forward, I won't hesitate telling the board - and then it will be up to them.

'They have certainly bared their teeth in terms of the backing when we have tried to go for players.'

McLeish quickly identified the potential of Samaras when it became clear Sven-Goran Eriksson would be willing to listen to offers for the 22-year-old.

But the arrival of McFadden and Zarate to supplement Cameron Jerome, Mikael Forssell and Garry O'Connor has persuaded him to spend his funds elsewhere.