Neil Lennon's megabucks plea for Gary Hooper to stay the course at Celtic

NEIL Lennon has urged Gary Hooper to cash in on a lucrative new deal with Celtic – even if he wants to bale out of the club in the summer.

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Neil Lennon reckons Gary Hooper should grab the contract offer from Celtic
Neil Lennon reckons Gary Hooper should grab the contract offer from Celtic

The Hoops boss was delighted the Parkhead board booted out a last-gasp £9million bid from Norwich hours before the transfer window shut on Thursday.

Now Lennon wants the sought-after striker to ink the megabucks deal that has been on the table for months.

And he assured the Englishman he won't thwart his ambitions to eventually swap the SPL for the Barclays Premier League. Lennon said: "The contract is still there. My advice to Gary has always been to sign it regardless of whether he wants to go in the summer. If the money is there then he should take it.

"We had a chat with Gary in Marbella and he said: 'Look, I want to stay'. We will look at his position in the summer. I don't want to stop his progression, but we feel he has still got a lot to offer here before he moves on."

Looking back on the final day of the January transfer window, Lennon said: "It was comfortable. Basically, we knew exactly what was going on.

"We received another bid, another substantial bid, for Gary on Thursday, but, once again, it was rejected.

"Our stance was: 'Make a bid'. We didn't have a set price in our mind. But the offers they (Norwich) were coming in with were nowhere near where we value the player at.

"I am pleased that we are in a position where we can say no. We are very sound, very robust financially. We have good assets on the field.

"We are delighted we have kept all of the players who have been playing consistently well here together through the window. That can be hard to do sometimes."

Celtic failed in a bid to bring Wolves and Republic of Ireland striker Kevin Doyle to Parkhead on loan until the end of the 2012/13 campaign.

He said: "We missed out on Kevin. He knows all about the club but, for the time being, he wants to commit himself to Wolves. We didn't get great encouragement – certainly not from Wolves.

"I can totally respect that. It would have been a loan deal until the end of the season."

Meanwhile, Juventus last night clinched a six-month loan deal for former Arsenal top gun Nicolas Anelka from Chinese outfit Shanghai Shenhua.

And he is certain to be in the squad to face Celtic in the last 16 Champions League tie at Parkhead on Tuesday, February 12.


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