Wednesday 20 September 2017

I won't break wage structure – Lennon

Gavin McCafferty

Celtic manager Neil Lennon has ruled out a big-money replacement for Gary Hooper as he vowed not to upset the club's wage structure.

Lennon hailed Hooper as Celtic's best striker since Henrik Larsson after the Englishman returned south to sign for Norwich yesterday.

The 25-year-old netted 82 goals in three years following his £2.4m move from Scunthorpe before earning Celtic more than double their initial outlay.

And it is that imaginative and potentially lucrative signing policy that Celtic will continue to deploy, despite bringing in almost £18m in the past few weeks.

But the resale value is only one consideration when Celtic enter the transfer market as Lennon does not want to bring in a player on much higher wages than those who got the club to the last 16 of the Champions League last season.

Lennon, who has brought in Virgil van Dijk, Amido Balde and free agent Steven Mouyokolo for a total of about £5m, said: "We're looking and looking, it's not as easy as everyone thinks. Yes, we have brought in a lot of money but we have to safeguard the future of the club as well.

"We are trying to push the button on one or two players. We have already brought three in but obviously attacking areas are a priority."

With the second of three potential Champions League qualifiers beginning next week against Swedish side Elfsborg, Lennon would naturally like a forward in quickly to boost his team's options of reaching the group stages.

"I don't think we are going to spend six or seven million pounds on a player – I'm not going to break a spirit and wage structure here because once you start doing that, I'll be getting a lot of knocks on the door," he insisted.

Lennon has Anthony Stokes, Balde, Georgios Samaras and Tony Watt competing for a centre-forward role but Hooper has been his top scorer for the last three seasons and will be missed.

Irish Independent

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