Celtic boss Lennon to launch Rio raid

NEIL LENNON wants to attend this summer's World Cup finals as he searches for the players he needs to make Celtic better.

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Lennon has dismissed the suggestion that Celtic's league triumph is tainted by the absence of Rangers
Lennon has dismissed the suggestion that Celtic's league triumph is tainted by the absence of Rangers

The Hoops boss will sit down with Parkhead chief executive Peter Lawwell next week with his budget on the agenda. Lennon revealed in January he had the funds to buy a player in the £6million price bracket.

But while that money is still there, he is realistic enough to admit they are more likely to continue to shop in the marketplace they have been scouring for the past few years.

The Hoops boss recognises the World Cup finals are a good shop window for talent, and said: "I have no idea if there will be an increase in my budget for next year.

"That's something we will probably be discussed next week.

"With the league now won, that's something I can get on my bike about, looking at potential targets.

"Financially, we are quite healthy. But we just have to be careful, and, if we are going to spend that kind of money [£6million], that's it on the right one."

Emilio Izaguirre was spotted playing for Honduras at the 2010 World Cup, and Lennon considers it fertile ground.

"There is no question the World Cup may prove to be to our advantage," he says. "I would like to go to the finals. The last one I was at was France."

Lennon confirmed there have been no more talks with Georgios Samaras, who he now expects to leave at the end of the season.

That he is showing so much enthusiasm in planning the future will reassure supporters who fear he could move after four years and three titles.

The 42-year-old knows he is back to square one again next season when critics will be ready to pounce on bad results.

He is irked by suggestions Celtic's achievements are lessened by Rangers not being in the top division, and said: "The overview probably is that the competition is not great because Rangers are not here.

"That is a realism, and there is nothing we can do about that.

"But I don't like the word devalued. Andy Murray won Wimbledon when there was no Rafael Nadal. Does that mean his title was devalued because the best player in the world wasn't at the tournament?

"No, it doesn't, and it's the same with the titles we win."

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