Celtic face a battle to land Belgian star Brandon Mechele and look set to miss out on Wanyama windfall; Josh Meekings will play in the Scottish Cup final after SFA beaks cleared him to play in the Hampden showpiece
Celtic face uphill battle to land Mechele
CELTIC face a battle to land defender Brandon Mechele, with Club Brugge keen to hold on to the £3 million-rated stopper.
The Hoops could well need a new central defensive partnership next season with Jason Denayer returning to Manchester City and Virgil van Dijk likely to attract interest from top clubs.
And Mechele’s agent told the Daily Record: “There is an enquiry from Celtic about Mechele. The only thing is that Brugge do not want to talk about a transfer right now.
“They would like the boy to stay with them for another year. They have been involved in European matches and are also in the middle of fighting for a championship.
“He has a contract for a couple of more years at Brugge but you know how it is in football.
“At this moment, we have to wait and see what can happen.”
Mechele played in Club Brugge’s 1-0 loss to Dnipro in the Europa League last night, with the Ukrainian outfit progressing to the semi-finals. (Daily Record)
No Wanyama windfall for Hoops
CELTIC look likely to miss out on a £2 million windfall after ex-Hoops star Victor Wanyama denied he was joining Arsenal for £20 million.
The Kenyan international - who Celtic sold to Southampton for £12.5 million in 2013 - took to Twitter to rubbish claims he had spoken to Gunners boss Arsene Wenger.
Despite reports in England suggesting Wanyama had held talks with Wenger, he tweeted: “We all respect Arsenal but right now I’m only focussed on helping Saints to have a strong finish to the season.
“The newspaper article does not say that I have spoken to Wenger or anyone else from Arsenal - and that’s the truth. We are doing so well and what other managers think of me as a player is totally out of my control.”
But Celtic, who negotiated a sell-on clause when they signed Wanyama from Belgian side Beerschot, may have to wait for their 10 per cent following the Kenyan’s comments. (Various)
Meekings clear to play in Scottish Cup final
INVERNESS Caledonian Thistle defender Josh Meekings expressed his relief and gratitude last night as he was cleared to play in the Scottish Cup final after winning his appeal against a controversial one-match ban.
The 22-year-old Englishman was offered the suspension by the Scottish Football Association’s compliance officer, Tony McGlennan, after officials failed to see his handball in Sunday’s 3-2 semi-final win over Celtic at Hampden Park.
However, an independent three-person judicial panel tribunal met at the national stadium and dismissed the charge – that the defender had denied Celtic an obvious goalscoring opportunity by deliberate handball – leaving Meekings available for the final against Falkirk on 30 May. (The Scotsman)
Rooney out to deny Celtic a Pittodrie party
ADAM Rooney is adamant that Celtic won’t clinch the title at Pittodrie on May 10.
The former Inverness CT striker landed a nomination for PFA Scotland Player of the Year yesterday - along with Hoops opponents Virgil van Dijk and Stefan Johansen.
And speaking ahead of the clash, Rooney said: “You can say that’s a nightmare scenario for us,” said Rooney. “But if they are going to win it, they are going to win it.
“Obviously, though, we wouldn’t like to see them celebrating on our patch because of the season we have had. We have pushed them close enough this year, so it wouldn’t be nice to watch that.” (The Scotsman)
Johansen hails Deila after POTY nomination
STEFAN Johansen has paid tribute to Ronny Deila after he was one of four nominated for the PFA Scotland Player of the Year award.
The Norwegian, brought to Glasgow by Neil Lennon, has flourished under his countryman.
And he said: “It’s great to be nominated. It shows you have done something right.
“Ronny was the guy who took me to Stromsgodset and helped me a lot with the things I needed to work on. Then I got sold here and Ronny joined soon after. He is a good gaffer who cares about the small details and that makes you a better player. That’s important.
“He’s been the most important figure in my career. He has helped me get to where I am today.” (Various)
Malonga wants strong finish to season
DOMINIQUE Malonga has played down his lack of celebration after sealing Hibernian’s win over Livingston on Wednesday night, pointing to his recent slump in form.
The Congolese striker scored 11 times in six games prior to his exploits with his country in the African Cup of Nations, but has managed just three in 11 since his return.
And Malonga, who joined Hibs in September following Farid El Alagui’s injury, revealed he has been struggling with niggling injuries.
He said: “It’s a good goal for me but I lost many balls, my first touch wasn’t good, I just want to be ok.
“I have had a little bit of soreness on my knee, so it was good for me. It was a good goal and moving forward I just hope to get back to my best.
“It is just a pain I have but I think day after day it’s better. I just need to work hard and I just hope I’m ok for the play-off, because it’s all about the play-off.” (The Scotsman)