Stefan Johansen coy on Celtic transfer talk

THE halfway point of the transfer window arrives this week and it would seem that Norwegian midfielder Stefan Johansen is the one player Celtic are more than halfway towards capturing.
Stefan Johansen in action for Norway. Picture: GettyStefan Johansen in action for Norway. Picture: Getty
Stefan Johansen in action for Norway. Picture: Getty

Celtic face Galatasaray today in the Antalya Cup final on their Turkish break, with a side relying heavily on last summer’s signings. Manager Neil Lennon says he will leave it to chief executive Peter Lawwell and the scouting team to concentrate on adding winter arrivals such as Johansen, as he looks to give more game time to Teemu Pukki, Amido Balde, Derk Boerrigter and Nir Biton. That quartet impressed in Thursday’s 3-1 win over Trabzonspor, which featured classy strikes by the Finnish and Portuguese front men.

With mainstays Scott Brown, Kris Commons and Virgil van Dijk among several players excused a second game in Turkey, Lennon will use injury returnees James Forrest and Adam Matthews as well as a crop of youngsters in an encounter that could pit them against Didier Drogba and Wesley Sneijder for Roberto Mancini’s side.

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It may be some time before Johansen, in Abu Dhabi with Norway this week for friendlies against Moldova and Poland, becomes Lennon’s latest 
£2 million recruit, but speaking about his future yesterday, the 23-year-old Stromsgodset midfielder was diplomatic.

“There has been much talk about me moving, but I have to point out I have a year left of my contract,” said the six-times capped player. “So it would be unfair of me to comment on a possible transfer.

“I don’t want to talk about Celtic or any individual club yet. But, if something concrete comes forward, I will of course look at the offer. I don’t have much information about the Scottish league but it’s a good culture there. Although I must admit, I’ve not watched too many Scottish football games, nor played there either. But as long as I have a contract with Stromsgodset then I must focus my full attention there.”

Celtic supporters remain hopeful that adding a goalscorer continues to receive the full attention of their powerbrokers.

The increasing likelihood that Georgios Samaras will move on – with Trabzonspor and Atletico Madrid having held talks – opens up a space in the squad, with Wolves’ Leigh Griffiths reported to be still under consideration.