With contract negotiations going nowhere for Gary Hooper, speculation is rife that Celtic’s star striker will be sold in the next few weeks, with offers from the English Premier League already on the table. Norwich have had two very decent bids turned down in the last two days, with Tottenham Hotspur also said to be interested in taking the striker down south. Neil Lennon is confident he can hold onto his side’s top scorer until the summer at least, in the hope that the Champions League matches with Juventus are enough to keep Hooper at Parkhead.
By Nicky Boyle – @bbopshakur
The dilemma facing Hooper is whether or not he risks staying at Celtic until the summer, with the chance he could be injured or suffer a dip in form, and therefore miss out on his big chance to move to the Premiership. Or, he moves now, to a team doing well in Norwich, and gives himself a real chance of being a success in England.
Remember, for all the talk of the big games with Juventus, arguably, these are the only big matches that Hooper has to really look forward to. Celtic are beginning to open a big gap at the top of the Scottish Premier League, and although still in both domestic cups, they will be expected to win them all. In Norwich, or any other potential suitor south of the border, he has games against the likes of Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea to look forward to, huge games in their own right.
Of course, if he decides to stay at Celtic until the summer he has the chance to become a real hero. If they manage to cause another upset and knock out the Italian champions, he will be remembered as a legend, no matter what he decides to do in the summer. He could stay and become a club legend, similar to someone like Henrik Larsson, or he could go south and struggle to fit in at a club and be dismissed and find himself back in the Championship in a year or two. He would not be the first player to try their luck away from Scotland, only to realise the grass is not greener on the other side. Look at Kris Boyd, Shaun Maloney, even Aiden McGeady, who have all struggled to a degree after leaving the Old Firm.
The one thing pulling Hooper to the Premiership, I believe, is the chance to break into the England squad. Whilst, at Celtic he is looked at as a decent striker, scoring goals in a less than average division, if he moves to England and scores some goals he will be propelled straight into the England squad and given a proper chance.
On the flip side, some people, such as Celtic assistant Johan Mjallby, have argued that performing in the Champions League at the highest level is better than playing for a mid-table Premiership club. In the short-term this is probably true but considering Celtic are not a club destined for the last 16 of the Champions League every year, this argument is a little redundant. There is no doubt he would improve as a player by moving to the Premiership. It is just a question of whether or not he could fit in quick enough?
It’s a huge decision to make over the next eight days. Let’s finally remember that Gary Hooper is not like the majority of people reading this blog: a Celtic fan. He was born in England, has played in England and probably wants to return to England to show everyone how good a player he really is. Everyone must realise that regardless of what choice he makes before the window closes.
Will Gary Hooper leave Celtic in this transfer window? Tweet us @talkingbaws or comment below. Watch out for Anton Horan’s blog tomorrow.