Georgios Samaras joins NASL expansion club Rayo OKC

The former Celtic and West Bromwich Albion striker has joined the US second tier side on a deal for the 2016 season.

Former Celtic and West Bromwich Albion striker Georgios Samaras is set to begin the next chapter of his career in the US second tier.

The 31-year-old Greece international has joined newly-formed Rayo OKC of the NASL on a contract for the 2016 campaign and could make his preseason debut for the club this weekend against fellow expansion side Miami FC.

“I’m very excited to come to Oklahoma City and join Rayo OKC,” Samaras told the team’s official website. “They have signed a lot of really good players and we are going to work very hard and hopefully be competitive in our first season in the NASL.”

Rayo OKC head coach Alen Marcina added: “We are extremely excited and blessed to be able to sign Georgios. “He has played at the highest levels throughout his career and we are very fortunate to add him to our club.

“He brings a wealth of experience on top of his incredible talent level that will be immeasurable for our team.”

Samaras had been a free agent since leaving West Brom on a free transfer last summer, but he came close to joining another NASL club this past winter.

The two-time World Cup veteran trained with the New York Cosmos for an extended period during the 2015 Fall Season while recovering from a lingering back issue and held “advanced discussions” about replacing the since-retired Raul.

A deal ultimately failed to materialise, however, allowing Rayo OKC to swoop for the 81-times capped Greek despite rumours linking him with MLS side D.C. United.

The Oklahoma City-based outfit, who share an owner with La Liga’s Rayo Vallecano, have made some ambitious signings ahead of their inaugural campaign and should be a force to contend with if their star forward can replicate the form that saw him bag 73 goals in 249 games for Celtic between 2008 and 2014.

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