Celtic won’t spend big to replace Gary Hooper

Canary: Gary Hooper. Picture: SNS
Canary: Gary Hooper. Picture: SNS
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Celtic manager Neil Lennon has ruled out a big-money 
replacement for Gary Hooper as he vowed not to upset the club’s wage structure.

Lennon hailed Hooper as Celtic’s best striker since Henrik Larsson after the Englishman returned south to sign for Norwich yesterday.

Like Larsson, who scored 242 goals for Celtic after signing from Feyenoord for £650,000, Hooper more than justified his price tag.

The 25-year-old netted 82 goals in three years following his £2.4million move from Scunthorpe before earning Celtic more than double their initial outlay.

And it is that imaginative and potentially lucrative signing policy that Celtic will continue to deploy, despite bringing in almost £18m in the past few weeks.

Victor Wanyama’s signing was even more profitable with his initial fee of £900,000 dwarfed by the £12.5m it took for the club to sell him to Southampton two years later.

But the re-sale value is only one consideration when Celtic enter the transfer market as Lennon does not want to bring in a player on much higher wages than those who got the club to the last 16 of the Champions League last season.

Lennon, who has brought in Virgil van Dijk, Amido Balde and free agent Steven Mouyokolo for a total of about £5m, said: “We’re looking and looking, it’s not as easy as everyone thinks.

“Yes, we have brought in a lot of money, but we have to safeguard the future of the club as well.

“We have to be mindful of that when we go into negotiations with players. Some of the prices are too much, some of the wages are too much and sometimes players are happy where they are.

On Hooper, Lennon said: “I think he has been the best striker here since Henrik and he will be a huge loss to us but we move on.

“He has aspirations to play for England and in the Premier League and he’s got that now.

“I wish him well. Part of me wants to strangle him, but you don’t want to stop the progress of some individuals.”