Neil Lennon must secure Champions League riches to fund signings
NEIL Lennon has confirmed that any transfer business he conducts before next weekend’s signing deadline will be wholly dependent on whether Celtic complete their passage into the group stage of the Champions League.
The Celtic manager is hopeful of being plunged into a flurry of activity next Thursday and Friday, with several players having been identified as likely recruits if the Scottish champions secure the projected bounty of around £12 million from participation in Europe’s elite club tournament.
The £6 million fee the Scottish champions will imminently receive from the sale of midfielder Ki Sung Yueng to Swansea City has been earmarked to manage the club’s debt and compensate for the drop in domestic TV revenues caused by Rangers’ top-flight exile.
For Lennon, whose need to strengthen his squad was underlined by confirmation yesterday that midfielders Joe Ledley and Beram Kayal will be sidelined by injury for the next few weeks, it makes the 2-0 lead his team will take into Wednesday’s Champions League Play-off round, second leg match against Helsingborgs at Celtic Park all the more significant.
“We do have players lined up, ones we have been working on for quite a while,” said Lennon. “Wednesday might have a big bearing on whether we can get over the line with these deals or not.
“One of the big incentives to come here is to play Champions League football. If we have that, then it would make it a lot easier. I hope Thursday and Friday can be busy days for us. We are looking to add to the squad because we have trimmed it right down. It is looking just a little bit thin at the minute. In addition to Joe and Beram, we also have Anthony Stokes and Daryl Murphy out for a few weeks injured.”
Lennon confirmed that even Champions League riches this season will not alter the club’s current policy of seeking younger talent in the transfer market, players such as Ki who can be purchased for relatively low fees and later sold on at a profit.
“We have worked hard behind the scenes to bring these players in,” added Lennon. “Ki is a terrific player and I’m sorry to see him go, but it’s good business for the club. The kid wants to go and play in the Premier League and sometimes you don’t want to stand in their way. We feel it is a good fee for a player of his age and we wish him well.
“I think it’s almost always been that way. For a time when Martin O’Neill came here, it went the other way and we were able to attract high-profile Premiership players. We could match the wages at that time, but we can’t now. It’s only natural that players peep over the curtains and think they might fancy a bit of that further down the line.
“But we are trying to build a team rather than break it up. We always had it in mind that we might have to sell a player this window. If we can get to the Champions League this year, I would imagine we wouldn’t have to sell again for a wee while anyway.
“The days of Celtic signing players for massive fees are over, for the time being anyway. If you are consistently in the Champions League, year in and year out, then you could maybe stretch it a bit more. But for the time being those days are not evident.
“We will maintain the policy we have had of trying to uncover players at good prices. That will always be the case until there is a shift in TV money. We also have to be prudent after the loss of Rangers. That has hit us for a lot of money as well.”
Lennon confirmed his interest in 22-year-old Japanese midfielder Yuki Otsu of Borussia Moenchengladbach, who scored his country’s goal in their shock 1-0 defeat of Spain at Hampden in the recent Olympic football tournament.
“He is someone we are looking at, but probably not for this transfer window,” said Lennon. “We’ll definitely keep tabs on him.”
In addition to his longer term absentees, Lennon also has injury doubts over Scott Brown, Thomas Rogne, Kris Commons and Georgios Samaras ahead of today’s lunchtime SPL assignment at Inverness.
“We are hoping they will be okay for the Helsingborgs game, but I wouldn’t want to take any risks with them on Saturday,” he added. “We’ve got Victor Wanyama available again after suspension and Mo Bangura is fit again and will be involved. We still have a pretty strong squad, but there will be a few kids involved, either starting the match or on the bench. We know we face another difficult game. I’ve never had an easy one at Inverness and don’t expect one this time. They are playing a little bit more football this year and they got a great point last week when they came from two down at Hearts with ten men. We know they will be well motivated.”
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Monday 20 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 21 C
Wind Speed: 9 mph
Wind direction: South
Temperature: 6 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: North west