CELTIC endured a frustrating final day of the summer transfer window as manager Neil Lennon missed out on two further targets ahead of the forthcoming Champions League campaign.
While Lennon was delighted to complete the capture of Finnish international striker Teemu Pukki from Schalke 04, he had three bids for Peterborough United attacking midfielder Lee Tomlin angrily rejected by the English League One club while a loan move for Manchester United left-back Alex Buttner also failed to materialise. Celtic did make one further addition on deadline day, signing teenage German goalkeeper Max Oberschmidt on loan from Fulham until January.
The arrival of Pukki, who will join Anthony Stokes, Georgios Samaras and Amido Balde in competing for the striking roles at Celtic, paved the way for Tony Watt to leave the Scottish champions on a season-long loan to Belgian top-tier outfit Lierse.
Watt has started just four matches for Celtic in 2013 after failing to build on the stunning impact he made last year with the winning goal against Barcelona in the Champions League.
The 19-year-old was formally unveiled by Lierse yesterday as they look to bolster their striking potency after a poor start to the season. After international duty with Scotland under-21s against Holland in Nijmegen this week, Watt will prepare for his debut with his new club against Club Brugge on 14 September.
“It happened really fast,” said Watt. “There was a meeting at Celtic and I was told there was an option to come to Belgium.
“I said it was a good opportunity and I’d like to give a try. The negotiations went smoothly and it is all sorted now. Hopefully I can score goals and avoid relegation and go as high up in the table as we possibly can.”
Watt’s relegation down the pecking order at Celtic was confirmed when Pukki signed a four-year contract at the club on Saturday. A fee of around £2.4 million is believed to have been paid for the 23-year-old.
Pukki revealed that his international manager, former Kilmarnock and Hibs boss Mixu Paatelainen, had influenced his decision to leave the Bundesliga for the Scottish Premiership. I spoke to Mixu and he was saying it will be a good club to go to,” said Pukki. “I am really excited about it and I am just waiting to meet the guys and get to play on the pitch.
“I can’t really wait to play in the stadium in front of the fans as I have heard so many good things about them. I am really looking forward to it and I hope it happens soon.
“Celtic are a great, traditional club. There is an opportunity to play in the Champions League and I hope I can score a lot of goals but I know it’s not going to be easy to just go in the side and I will need to work hard to get into the team.”
Pukki had been lined up for the move to Celtic before their dramatic Champions League play-off round victory over Shakhter Karagandy last Wednesday night.
“I was at home and sitting watching it on the internet and I was quite nervous and in the end I was a fan of Celtic,” he added.
“Last year I already played in the Champions League with Schalke and now I hope I can help Celtic to go through. It’s not an easy group as all the teams are quite hard.
“It will be difficult but, of course, we have a chance and Celtic already have shown last year that they can beat teams like Barcelona, so it will be a nice group.
“The players here always want to win and I think here we have a good chance of winning the championship and the cups, but we will have to work hard for them.”
In Celtic’s late move for Tomlin, their final offer was made during Peterborough’s match against Crawley Town. The player was substituted at half-time by manager Darren Ferguson as his team’s 100 per cent record in League One this season was ended by a 2-0 defeat.
“The third bid arrived during the game,” said Ferguson. “If that’s how Celtic want to do business that’s up to them, but it didn’t do Lee any favours.
“The first bid they made was a waste of time anyway. They can’t have watched him much over the past few years if that’s all they think it’s worth.
“He’s not going anywhere anyway and he knows that. We have great experience of clubs bidding for our players and they never leave after one bid. Lee is a lad who loves playing football and I did think that when he got on to the pitch he would forget about the Celtic bids, but clearly that wasn’t the case.’’
Peterborough chairman Darragh MacAnthony added on Twitter: “I used to be a Celtic fan. Not after today! What a day.”
Lennon had confirmed his interest in Buttner but Manchester United were only prepared to let the Dutchman leave on loan if they managed to secure the signing of England left-back Leighton Baines from Everton.
On a subdued final day of the transfer window in Scotland, the only other activity involving Premiership clubs resulted in three young players going on loan. Hibs defender Brad Donaldson has joined Arbroath, as has Motherwell striker Lee Erwin. St Johnstone defender Gareth Rodger has joined Montrose.
DEADLINE DAY DEALS
• Teemu Pukki (Schalke 04 to Celtic)
• Ben Hall (Dungannon Swifts to Motherwell)
• Alex Salmon (Carlisle United to Alloa Athletic)
• Bradley Donaldson (Hibernian to Arbroath)
• Lee Erwin (Motherwell to Arbroath)
• Josh Todd (Carlisle United to Annan Athletic)
• Steven Logan (Newcastle Utd to Annan Athletic)
• Martin McNiff (Dumbarton to Annan Athletic)
• Gareth Rodger (St Johnstone to Montrose)
• Bryan Deasley (Forfar Athletic to Montrose)
Carl Finnigan to Chippa United (South Africa)