Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Is there a lack of ambition amongst this Celtic squad?

After the highs of reaching the last 16 of the Champions League and defeating the world’s best side, who would have thought our best players would be linked with the likes of Reading, Hull and Wolves?

Celtic’s now esteemed scouting system, which is led by John Park, has brought relatively unknowns to Celtic and made some of them Europe’s hottest properties, or so we thought.

Victor Wanyama, Fraser Forster and Gary Hooper all stood-out during our European campaign, which in turn has led to numerous clubs being interested in gaining their services.

At first there were talks of Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool all being interested in the three players mentioned above, and rightly so.

Several English club have been watching Wanyama
Victor Wanyama, in my (biased) opinion, could walk into any of
they midfields and not look a bit out of place. He is a perfect fit for a club like Manchester United, even more so now that Paul Scholes has retired for a second time.

Despite this, it’s Premiership new boys Cardiff City who are chasing, and are favourites for our Kenyan midfielder.

I’m sure everyone on Twitter has seen the fans of Cardiff, Southampton and Reading slating Celtic and the SPL, claiming joining their club would be a significant step up for Wanyama or Hooper. You can see the slight amount of logic if he was joining the Premiership, but Reading? Championship Reading would be a step up? You can draw your own conclusions from that.

Celtic have already accepted a bid of £12m from Southampton last week but the midfielder’s agents, Rob Moore and Ivan Modia, dismissed the terms on offer and accused Celtic of trying to railroad a deal — with relations between the two parties now strained.

It is likely that Wanyama will join either Cardiff or Southampton, clubs that are surely below Celtic in terms of their reputation.

Today Liverpool have accepted a £6m offer for Jonjo Shelvey. If this England under-21 player is worth £6m, then surely whoever gets Wanyama for £12m will be laughing.

Wherever he goes, Celtic are going to make an extremely healthy profit, so I shouldn't lose that much sleep over the issue, but Wanyama has proved himself to be more than capable of joining a bigger club. What’s the rush? He’s still young and has plenty of time to make money. Sadly, it seems his agents might be doing the talking for him.

Another player in a similar boat is Englishman Gary Hooper.

Hooper, when playing in the Championship with Scunthorpe, outscored the then Newcastle striker Andy Carroll, who was then rewarded with a £35m move to Liverpool, only to leave for West Ham, for an expected £15m two years later.

Hooper was the player everyone was talking about in the January transfer window, with Norwich chasing the 31-goal hitman throughout the month – even sending a plane for him on the final day.

Despite shining in the Champions League, Hooper hasn’t been linked with top Premiership clubs. Instead there are talks of Hull and Reading wanting him to move down south.

Hooper scored 31 goals in all competitions last year
There are rumours that Hooper would be happy to stay, if he is to become one of the joint top earners at the club. I don’t think he is asking too much. Goal scorers are hard to come by, when you have one, you need to make sure you keep him.

Going by his attitude on the pitch since Christmas, I think it’s clear that Hooper would fancy a move away from Celtic. If this means to Reading or Hull, then that’s his decision. Will moving to one of these clubs really boost his chances of getting an elusive England call-up? Surely the Champions League is a better platform for him.

Former Celtic striker, Frank McGarvey had this to say about Hooper;

"I understand the financial pull of a club that can effectively double your wages.

"But what Gary also has to ask himself is what are his ambitions?

"Celtic's aim this summer is to have a crack at the Champions League again – and there is silverware and medals on offer too."

Times have changed for Celtic, they can’t compete with the ludicrous amounts of money that the English clubs have to spend, but not that many years ago Celtic aces were getting their chance to move to the big teams.

Liam Miller, a flop, I know, got his dream move to Manchester United. Hooper and Wanyama are significantly better players than the Irishman.

Henrik Larsson went on to play for Manchester United and won the Champions League with Barcelona.

One of my favourite Celtic players from recent years is Georgios Samaras. Not only for his qualities as a player, but he has shown the kind of commitment and passion to Celtic that is a rare thing in today’s footballing climate. This quote from the Greek sums up the attitude that every footballer with ambitions and morals should abide by.

“At the end of my career, I'd rather count my medals than count my money.”

Maybe some of this current Celtic squad should look at this and realise what their priorities are.

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