Celtic need goalscorer to crack Europe - Lennon

If CELTIC have a problem selling tickets for Parkhead in the post-Champions League weeks and months ahead they might want to consider a pay-per-view option on the meetings that Neil Lennon is going to have with Peter Lawwell about the January transfer market and the business that needs to be done.

Neil Lennon watched his Celtic side crash out of Europe after a 3-0 defeat at the hands of AC Milan. Picture: AP
Neil Lennon watched his Celtic side crash out of Europe after a 3-0 defeat at the hands of AC Milan. Picture: AP

Lennon has called the January window “a crucial month” in terms of preparing for qualification for next season’s Champions League. He says he is not just talking about signing a proven goalscorer but also a creative midfielder – a No.10 type – and also a left-back as cover for Emilio Izaguirre.

The Celtic manager says the club needs to “force the issue a little bit more in January”. He says the money is available and that the club “could have a bit of a turnover” in the transfer window.

Sign up to our Football newsletter

What the chief executive makes of this will only be known when we see the calibre of player Celtic approach.There is no doubt that there is now an ambition issue at play at Celtic. Namely, Lennon is ambitious to kick on in Europe by spending money in the transfer market, while the club may be more cautious when it comes to taking the plunge on new players.

On Friday, Lennon was asked about his own future and whether the glass ceiling in Glasgow was getting frustrating.

“I love my job,” he said. “Everybody is asking me ‘Are you looking down to England?’ Nobody’s picked up the phone. Nobody’s shown any interest. I can’t sit here and go ‘Yeah, I’ll go and manage in the Premier League whenever it suits me’. It doesn’t work that way.”

Lennon explained his disappointment at not having landed the quality of striker he was looking for in the summer. “We worked quite hard on [Artjoms] Rudnevs [of Hamburg] and got quite far down the line with that one but, in the end, he made it clear he didn’t want to come. That only gave us about two weeks to get players in. I went to watch [Teemu] Pukki and I liked him. I think he’ll come good for us but I knew he wouldn’t score the same volume of goals as [Gary] Hooper scored for us. Now I need to go out and find that type. That’s not taking anything away from the players I have here because they’ve been brilliant for us. But, to improve, I need to find someone who will be really consistent at all levels.

“We did try, we looked at three or four players, we tried to get a real goalscorer in and we were prepared to pay the money but for one reason or another [it didn’t happen]. We have to look at that again. There’s no question that we need a replacement for Hooper because we haven’t got one yet.”

It’s not just the European market that Lennon may search. “I know Dundee United have some very good young players and there are others floating around we like the look of. The players [here] know the environment so maybe we’ll look at British types rather than always looking abroad. British types might suit us better.”

If he was thinking of Ryan Gauld as a candidate for that No.10 role then it seems there is a queue forming. One way or another, January will tell us much about Celtic’s ambition – and the mindset of the manager and chief executive.