NEIL Lennon has given his first public indication that Celtic could make a formal move for Leigh Griffiths before the transfer window closes next Friday.
The Wolves striker has been persistently linked with a move to the Scottish champions this month and he stated earlier this week that it would be “an honour” and “definitely something I would consider.”
A new striker is top of Lennon’s January wish-list and he revealed yesterday that a move for one of his top foreign-based targets, who he declined to name, was “dead in the water”. When asked if Griffiths, who scored 28 goals on loan at Hibs last season, was among his potential targets ahead of next week’s deadline, the Celtic manager replied: “I can’t say that, but he is highly thought of, put it that way.”
Griffiths has scored 13 times for Wolves this season but has not been a regular starter for the League One club in recent weeks. Wolves manager Kenny Jackett insists he has no desire to sell the 23-year-old Scotland international but it is believed the Molineux club would be prepared to do business at around £1.25 million.
Any Celtic move for Griffiths may yet depend on how successful or otherwise the club is in pursuit of other targets. Norwich City’s attacking midfielder Robert Snodgrass continues to be linked with Celtic but Lennon once again played down any interest in the Scotland player. “We’ve not spoken to his representative or his club,” said Lennon, “so the stories must be coming from down there because it’s not coming from here. We have made a couple of calls into clubs about players, but no direct offers yet. We are working away on getting one or two players in next week. We hit the buffers yesterday on one. It ended quite abruptly, which is disappointing because we thought he was a very, very good player.
“I wouldn’t say we were far down the line on it, but we had done a lot of work on it. There was a lot of to-ing and fro-ing, but in the end it was no dice. It was a striker. I can’t tell you who it is, but it’s dead in the water. So we move on to the next one. We haven’t made any bids for any players. We will see what the weekend and next week brings, but I’m hopeful we will get one or two in. You look at the ones at the top of your specific targets, then when you can’t get them, you work your way down. The particular player we missed out on was high up and what we wanted. We couldn’t get the deal done.”
Lennon admits to harbouring a real dislike of the transfer window system and is bracing himself for some hectic activity next Friday. “It’s a pain in the neck,” he added. “Next Friday will be bedlam, absolute bedlam. You try to cram everything into a four-week period and everyone is doing the same thing. So it’s really difficult to get deals done.
“Then, in the last couple of days it starts to get easier as clubs are willing to offload players, to cut their wage bill or players want to go. The last two days you get names thrown at you from all angles. I don’t think it’s good for managers. The model’s been around for about ten years now and I don’t think there are too many people who speak highly of it.”
Mohamed Bangura’s ill-starred Celtic career, meanwhile, could see him make yet another loan move within the next week. The Sierra Leone striker only returned to the club at the start of the month, following a year-long loan at Elfsborg in Sweden. But after initially suggesting Bangura may have another chance to prove himself at Celtic, Lennon has now conceded the £2.2m misfit has no place in the club’s plans.
“It’s reasonable to say he doesn’t have a future here,” said Lennon. “He could go out on loan again in this window. It’s in his best interests to go and play first team football. It just hasn’t worked out for both parties and these things happen. You are never going to get every signing right. Every manager, even the greats, have made a mistake or two along the way. Mo needs to get out and play. His best bet may be Scandinavia again.”
Bosnian under-21 international striker Bahrudin Atajic, who scored his first Celtic goal in the 5-0 win over Motherwell at Fir Park last month, has joined Shrewsbury Town on loan.