Diego Laxalt: How Celtic failed a year ago to get him and how long-running pursuit ended

Celtic’s capture of Diego Laxalt on deadline day brought to fruition a long-running pursuit of the AC Milan left wing-back by the Scottish champions, Neil Lennon has revealed.

New Celtic signing Diego Laxalt surveys the scene at his latest footballing home (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)
New Celtic signing Diego Laxalt surveys the scene at his latest footballing home (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

And the Celtic manager maintained the deal for the 27-year-old Uruguayan would not have been possible without the player’s determination to choose Scotland over arguably more glamorous destinations.

“Getting Laxalt over the line was tremendous business,” Lennon said. “He is a player I have admired for a long time and I tried to get him last year. We couldn't get it done at that point but he showed a remarkable desire to come here.

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“I watched him at the 2018 World Cup and I thought he was excellent in a top-quality Uruguay team. He was one of their better players and that’s saying something when you think of the company he was in. That’s why we’ve been looking at him for a very long time. He’s been playing at a very high level in Serie A. He was out on loan with Torino last season and he had a fantastic time with Genoa for a few years before that which persuaded Milan to pay £15m for him.

“Diego found it difficult to claim a regular slot with Milan but I’ve always kept tabs on him. There was a real desire from him to come here, too, because there was a lot of interest from the continent, including La Liga clubs. I’m just delighted that he wanted to come here and delighted that he were able to get the deal done. Diego will make us better.”

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And despite Laxalt not having started a club game since July, Lennon hinted that he would have no issue with pitching the energetic performer straight into huge derby fixture with Rangers that will restart the Premiership programme on October 17 following the current international break.

“He’s not had a lot of game time but he’s been training and he’s also been on the bench for Milan in their last four or five games,” said the Celtic manager. “As a result, I don’t think fitness will be an issue for him. He’ll join us for training tomorrow and we’ll assess his levels then but I’m sure he’s a very fit lad who looks after himself very well.”

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