Neil Lennon examines Celtic transfer business and speaks on Olivier Ntcham interest from Bordeaux
At £13m, the net spend on permanent signings Vasilis Barkas, Albian Ajeti and David Turnbull - acquired from AEK Athens, West Ham United and Motherwell respectively - made for the club’s largest such outlay in any window as they chase an historic 10th straight title.
Meanwhile, the loan deals for Shane Duffy, Mohamed Elyounoussi and Diego Laxalt meant Celtic succeeded in shopping in some elite European leagues over the summer. Raids made as Celtic resisted being picked off by larger predators for any of their integral personnel. Ajeti, Duffy and Elyounoussi have all been enticed from the English Premier League, while Laxalt has been drafted in from Italian behemoths AC Milan and Barkas the respected Greek league.
“It has been a brilliant window,” said Lennon, named the manager of the month following an eight-game winning run across all competitions, four of these in the Premiership. “We have tidied up the squad too. Some have left and others have gone on loan to get games. We have brought in some real quality and allied to that, we have kept all our main assets. It's really good business from our point of view and it shows the intent the board have for this season and seasons to come.
"[Head of recruitment] Nick Hammond has done a great job. The recruitment team worked so hard over the lockdown. He has had to totally restructure that department and the amount of work that's gone into it has been tremendous. Nick has kept his eye on a lot of deals and to get some of them done has been fantastic. You look at Duffy, Laxalt, Barkas. Turnbull is a great young talent. We have a good mix of experience and youth – and real quality. We identified the areas we wanted to strengthen and did. We are in decent health and getting through to the Europa group stages was a big help from a financial point of view. As a club, we were very strong on not letting any of our big players go.
"It's indicative of the pandemic that there wasn't a huge amount of business on the last day. It wasn't as fraught as previous windows have been on deadline day. It was calm. Any interest we had in our players was totally rebuffed. We did have some interest in Olivier [Ntcham, from Bordeaux] but nothing appealing at all. That was the case for all of the players. It was clear from Friday that we weren't going to let anyone out the door. The club have been true to their word on that.”
Lennon was keen to heap the praise for his latest managerial accolade on to his players. “It was a great month for us and a brilliant response from the squad,” he said. “We had seven games in that block and we won them all. We used the squad, freshened things up at times and showed real consistency. There is more to come from the squad and now the window is shut, we can settle everyone down. We have huge games to look forward to when we come back after the break and it's very exciting times.”
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