The delay in announcing the appointment is due to an ongoing discussion between Lennon’s people and officials at the club. We understand that Lawwell and Reid were hoping to present Lennon alongside an experienced older head. Neil was willing to work with John Robertson who has apparently decided to call it a day at Aston Villa. We believe that discussions with Robertson have been taking place for a couple of weeks now but ultimately the former Celtic assistant manager decided that he had had enough of the day to day grind and intends to retire from football. Once this door closed Neil decided that there wasn’t another “father figure” type individual who he would be willing to work alongside. The club have eventually agreed that he can run things without the need for an old hand.
The reason behind the meeting taking place down South was to allow some London based agents to negotiate with Lennon and Lawwell moves for their players. Lennon has identified a number of players he wishes to bring to the club and it’s clear that he is following the MON model of experienced Premiership talent rather than the WGS model of Scottish Premiership journeymen.
It is probably common knowledge by now but we understand that a one year loan deal has been agreed with Jimmy Bullard and Hull City. Bullard will join up within the next seven days and may even be unveiled before the weekend. We understand that Celtic will take over responsibility for Bullard’s contract and will be required to pay his wages should he be out injured. Bullard is considered to be a dynamic link player who, when fit, is considered to be one of the best players in the Premiership. He has scored 5 times in 15 appearances for Hull.
Sol Campbell met with representatives of the club earlier this week and he is expected to sign up for the next two years. Lennon has identified the need for a strong spine and sees Campbell as having the experienced required to help develop Thompson and Rogne. Campbell was keen on a joint coaching role but has been told that he will be an important first team player for the foreseeable future.
Martin Petrov is a player who has been offered to Celtic and Rangers. Once it became clear just how little Rangers could offer in terms of salary that offered was swiftly withdrawn. However, the terms he is after are well within Celtic’s budget and we are definitely interested. He is not our number one target but a lot will depend on the players who may leave and if we can get another Bulgarian in…
Stilian Petrov is a player who Neil Lennon would dearly love to see return to the club. As he has matured Stilian has moved further back and Lennon sees him as the ideal defensive midfielder that was sadly lacking last season. It’s well known that Petrov’s wife is desperate to return to Celtic and with talk that the coaching team at Villa Park is on the verge of breaking up Stilian may feel that the time is right. If Petrov does not make the move this season we have been told that a defensive midfield from one of the top four in England may be brought in on loan.
Liam Lawrence is also a target which is probably common knowledge. He has been identified as a possible replacement for Aiden McGeady who was in London today to discuss terms with two clubs, thought to be Spurs and Birmingham. A figure in the region of £9 million has been mentioned to us with Birmingham being the most likely destination but Spurs being said to be Aiden’s preferred choice.
Speaking of players heading out the door it’s pretty much accepted at Celtic Park that Boruc is away. He has returned to Poland and has said his farewells to a number of the players. We have been told not to expect McManus to return to the club either as he is not considered to be of the calibre required. Paul Caddis also expects to leave the club as his relationship with Lennon has never been close. Samaras’ people have already been making clubs on the continent aware of his availability. Mainly because he was described as an imposter by members of the coaching staff following the Ross County game. Others who can go unsurprisingly include Crosas and Mizuno.
Joe Ledley is almost certainly going to be a Celtic player within the next couple of days. Ledley is a player who ticks all the boxes – Lennon has identified him as an essential part of his rebuilding of Celtic and Lawwell loves the idea of a 23 year old with a resale value of potentially £8-10 million.
What’s confusing us is that Lennon is desperate to keep ahold of Scott Brown so where all these midfielders will line up is anyone’s guess. Obviously not all will arrive at the club but we have plenty of names on the list and if the top one says no (which he hasn’t apparently) we’ll just move onto the next.
Finally Craig Bellamy is a realistic target for the club. Neil Lennon has identified the need for a top class striker to sign up and he is not hopeful of keeping Robbie Keane (although he would happily keep him if he opts to stay.) With Bellamy and Lennon being close friends, our new manager is well aware that Craig is unwilling to play for Mancini next season. Bellamy has told friends that the only time he truly enjoyed his football was when he was in green and white hoops and if he cannot play for Cardiff in the Premiership he is keen to return to Celtic. We hear that a season long loan deal is being discussed and Bellamy’s agent has been talking to Lennon for the past fortnight.
As always there will be names we have missed and names we have included who will never appear at Celtic Park. However, these are the names we have been told are on Neil’s shopping list. We have been left in no doubt that a significant investment in the club will take place this summer and a number of experienced players will be brought in with the single aim of bringing the title back to Celtic Park.
Mind you we have no idea what’s going to happen at Celtic Park on June the 11th. We can hardly wait to find out.