Kieran Tierney joins Arsenal as defender completes £25m transfer from Celtic

Kieran Tierney insists the time was right to leave Celtic but claims it was the ‘hardest decision’ of his life as he finally completed his record breaking £25 million move to Arsenal.
Kieran Tierney is unveiled as an Arsenal playerKieran Tierney is unveiled as an Arsenal player
Kieran Tierney is unveiled as an Arsenal player

The Scotland international left-back, who is understood to have signed a five-year contract worth around £80,000 a week, was announced as an Arsenal player just 15 minutes before the English Premier League transfer deadline closed at 5pm on Thursday.

Tierney had been linked with the London giants all summer but Celtic rejected two previous bids for the 22-year-old which failed to meet their valuation.

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The Scottish champions, who stressed they made every effort to hold onto Tierney, accepted Arsenal’s third offer on Wednesday and allowed him to head south where he passed a medical and agreed personal terms on Thursday afternoon.

Tierney won eight major honours with his boyhood club after breaking into the Celtic first team at the age of 17, making 170 appearances and scoring eight goals. But he admits he simply could not resist the lure of the English top flight.

“It was the hardest decision in my whole life that I've had to make,” Tierney told the Arsenal website. “I had to speak to my family and my close friends and my agent as well because it's a hard decision to leave a club that you love so much. People need to know that as well. I feel Arsenal is a massive club and it's a great opportunity for me as well. I'm delighted to be here.

“When I was younger, it was always Celtic. The ambition was Celtic and that was my dream when I was younger. But when you get older... I've done that, I've made my dream, I've lived my dream and I've loved every single minute of it. Now I just feel was the right time to take a step on.”

Tierney becomes the most expensive Scottish player in history, surpassing the £20 million fee Sheffield United paid for his international team-mate Oli McBurnie just six days earlier.

It proved to be a frantic 22 hours for Tierney from the moment he was informed Celtic had agreed the deal with Arsenal.

“I got told at seven o'clock last night (Wednesday) that I had to be at the airport in an hour, so I had to go quickly,” he said.

“I was actually down the park with my friends training. They play with their local team so I was down watching them and I got a phone call that I needed to go. I got to the airport and the flight was delayed two-and-a-half hours, with another hour's drive for a hotel and I probably got zero sleep, so I was back up at half five today.”

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Tierney, who has been handed the number 3 jersey by Arsenal, has not played since 5 May and is still recovering from double hernia surgery.

“I've been working hard in rehab and I've had good people around me as well. At Celtic I was training hard, working hard and just looking to get back fit. That was my main focus. I'm just getting back fit now, I'm just getting back involved with a ball and I’m back running. So hopefully it's not going to be too long.”

Celtic have broken their own record transfer fee received by a Scottish club, eclipsing the £19.7 million they received from Lyon for striker Moussa Dembele a year ago.

“We did all we could to keep Kieran at Celtic,” they said in a statement. “While the club did not need or wish to sell Kieran, this was an opportunity which Kieran very much wished to pursue and with the club having received a significant offer, we have agreed to the transfer.

“Kieran has been a big part of the club for a number of years, coming through our Academy structure and becoming a key first team player of real quality.

“He has made a significant contribution to Celtic and we thank him very much for all he has given to the club and, of course, we wish him very well for the future in his career.”

Celtic manager Neil Lennon expressed his sadness at Kierney’s departure but tipped him to make a major impression at the highest level of English football.

“This is an opportunity Kieran wanted to take and while we will be sad to see him leave the club, we wish Kieran all the very best for the future,” said Lennon.

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“Although he is still a young guy, Kieran has given the club so much. He’s a great lad and I’ve really enjoyed working with him. I’m sure he will continue to progress and develop and make a big impact in the English Premier League.

“It has obviously been a long process, but now it has been finalised we can now look ahead and concentrate on continuing to build our own squad and meet the many challenges ahead, domestically and in Europe.”

Arsenal manager Unai Emery enthusiastically welcomed Tierney’s arrival and expects him to enhance a squad seeking to improve upon last season’s disappointing fifth place finish in the Premier League.

“We’re delighted Kieran is joining us,” said Emery. “He’s a very talented player who will continue to improve. He increases our options defensively and I look forward to him joining our group.”