HIBERNIAN’S hopes of keeping Leigh Griffiths have been dashed again by his parent club, Wolves, who reiterated their desire yesterday to keep him at Molineux and make him a multi-million pound striker.
Wolves chief executive Jez Moxey compared Griffiths’ talent and potential to another former Hibernian striker – Steven Fletcher, whom the Midlands club bought from Burnley for £6 million then sold on to Sunderland for £12m.
Griffiths, 22, had wanted to make this season’s loan move to Easter Road permanent after scoring 28 goals for Hibs in a campaign which helped the club reach the Scottish Cup final and qualify for Europe. Griffiths was named Clydesdale Bank Premier League player of the season, PFA Scotland young player of the year, then picked up the prestigious Scottish Football Writers’ award.
But Wolves’ chief executive Moxey claims there is no chance of his club selling Griffiths to Hibs as they bid for promotion after suffering back-to-back relegations.
“He will absolutely be coming back here to play for us next season,” said Moxey. “We have taken up the one-year option on his contract, so he is with us and we will be working him.
“There is absolutely no way that Wolverhampton Wanderers has any interest other than having Leigh Griffiths here in the summer training with us in preparation for a League One campaign. He scored a lot of goals for Hibs and they are the one commodity that everyone wants, so why on earth wouldn’t we want to keep him? Some people have said that he was not given a chance in the last year or so and that is perhaps a fair accusation to make. So he is going to be given a chance now.”
Wolves paid £150,000 to sign Griffiths from Dundee in January 2011 but his only appearance for the club so far came in August of that year in a League Cup tie against Northampton Town. But Moxey thinks he could eventually be worth as much as Fletcher. “We know what Steven Fletcher went for, so we think Leigh could be really exciting for us,” added Moxey. “Let’s get him back here, sell him the vision and make sure that he is in tune with what we are trying to do and I think he will be. He is a good lad. He has had some troubles, but inherently I think he is a good lad. He just lost his way a bit.”
Wolves recently named former Millwall manager Kenny Jackett as their new head coach, after Dean Saunders was axed at the end of the season. Jackett, who has been appointed on a 12-month rolling contract and arrives without his own backroom staff, said: “There’ll be 46 cup finals next season. Wolves in this division will be a real big game for everybody. Having said that, it’s something we shouldn’t be frightened of.”