Are Celtic on the quest of a wave?

AS Celtic's search for fresh talent is extending to every outpost on planet football, does Neil Lennon and his scouting team run the risk of overlooking potential signings right under their noses?

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Scott Brown made the jump from Hibs to Celtic for £4.4million in 2007

As the squads announced over the last year by Gordon Strachan indicate, there are more and more Scottish rising stars emerging on our own doorstep.

The tendency to bring in cheap imports from abroad has been strangled by the lack of funds clubs have to invest in short-term fixes.

More and more importance is being attached to training academies, with their products finding the path to the first team less congested with the previous litany of mercenaries parachuted in from foreign parts.

Now, clubs like Dundee United, Aberdeen, St Johnstone, Motherwell, St Mirren and Kilmarnock can boast a hard-core of Scottish players, many tipped to go on to bigger and better things.

But are any of them - or the non-Scots they play alongside - currently on the radar of Celtic? If not, should they be?

Certainly, after four seasons in charge of the Hoops, Lennon has had more than enough opportunity to assess the players who line up against his Bhoys.

It's the perfect chance to gauge them as he knows the strength of opposition he is measuring them against.

And, with transfer fees in England rising ever more, as the cash being made available to clubs is increasing courtesy of the new TV deal, the Hoops net is being cast in different directions.

Bargains like Kris Commons, at £300,000, Bosman signings Kelvin Wilson, Joe Ledley and Adam Matthews, and most recently, Leigh Griffiths at £900,000, are becoming harder and harder to find in the lucrative southern market.

It is a moveable feast.

What can one day be a pond rich with targets to be landed can very quickly become over-fished, or have attracted so many hoping to land a big 'un that it becomes uneconomical even to drop your line in there.

It has happened in several places around the world, not just England, with Poland - for so long a major market for Celtic - pricing itself outwith their budget a few years ago.

It has been replaced by Israel, with Beram Kayal, Efe Ambrose and Nir Biton proving to be particular value for the modest money paid.

The Scandinavian countries are just coming back on stream after seeing the prices for their players being hiked as they became more and more fashionable.

Celtic have been delighted Stefan Johansen and Mikael Lustig have continued the long list of Scandinavians who have moved to Parkhead, settled instantly and gone on to become important players for the club.

The news AS Nancy's Haitian midfielder Jeff Louis is the subject of serious interest from the Hoops confirms John Park and his scouts are aware of the need to look below the very top level for future signings who meet the dual criteria of potential and affordability.

Louis has lit up the French second division this season, but would still fit neatly into the Hoops identikit of young enough to have scope for further development and increased value, but good enough to enhance Lennon's side.

The manager is also mulling over a clutch of other potential targets - Manchester United kid Nick Powell, who has completed his loan spell at Wigan, is another high up on that list - and will decide very shortly on which ones to make moves for as the transfer window prepares to open again.

But, will any players already very familiar to Hoops fans be the subject of bids? Certainly, Lennon is quick to emphasise he has been impressed by the standard of opposition his side has faced in the campaign just ended.

But, there is irrefutable evidence that, while it is one thing to play well against the Hoops, it is another altogether to play well in them.

It is not hard to think of many examples where men who have looked excellent and blossomed when facing Celtic have wilted when given the opportunity to play for them.

Willo Flood epitomises this condition.

He posed the Hoops all kind of problems when he played against them for Dundee United, but, like Chris Killen, could not handle being in their team when Strachan gave him the chance.

The fact Flood has again proved to be such a handful for the Hoops when helping Aberdeen record the only SPFL Premiership victory over Lennon's side this season and knock them out of the William Hill Scottish Cup re-affirms some players' personality simply doesn't allow them to transfer their ability to Celtic.

Of course, there are other examples of players who have coped with the step.

Scott Brown - at £4.4million, the club's most expensive purchase from another Scottish club when he joined in 2007, but now considered a steal - has embedded himself in the Hoops' team and history.

Anthony Stokes has also handled the move along the M8, while Charlie Mulgrew has grabbed his second chance.

But for every one who has soared since signing from another Scottish club, there are several who have crashed and burned.

So, could this hold back Lennon as he casts his eye over the home-grown talent which exists in Scotland?

Or, should he be seriously contemplating plundering clubs such as Dundee United and Aberdeen, whose crop of starlets looks ripe for the picking?

Stuart Armstrong and Andy Robertson are considered the best that Jackie McNamara has at Tannadice, though neither man enhanced their reputation in the Scottish Cup Final defeat to St Johnstone, whose Stevie May continues to impress.

At Pittodrie, while Flood, Barry Robson and another veteran, Russell Anderson, have been the pillars on which Derek McInnes has rebuilt the Dons, Peter Pawlett is the jewel in their crown, with more facets of his game yet to be exposed.

There would be a double impact in buying from the Premiership in that their acquisition might not only strengthen Lennon's squad, it would also have the effect of weakening the opposition.

But, that 'bonus' would be very much down the list of reasons to make any such purchases as Celtic are already so far ahead as the gap at the top of the table confirms.

So, will it be another case of Celtic doing their purchasing in the international markets, or will they tune into the Home Shopping Channel?

When the doors open for business in the next couple of weeks, all will be revealed.

Football

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