Celtic, Hooper and a case of Lewandowski Syndrome

After yet another failed bid for Gary Hooper, Celtic find themselves in a similar position to Borussia Dortmund.

At first glance, Celtic striker Gary Hooper doesn’t appear to have much in common with Borussia Dortmund’s Robert Lewandowski, aside from the fact that they both know where the goal is.

But following the latest bid from an English club for Hooper’s services, it seems the players’ current predicaments and future exploits are more similar than first thought.

Hull City’s reported offer of £4.5million for a player who has scored 81 goals in just three seasons was always going to be rejected by the Scottish champions. Just as Norwich City’s four failed bids were rebuffed back in January; the first of which reportedly matched yesterday’s offer, with each subsequent bid just £500,000 higher than the last.

And yet for a player in the last year of his contract, you can’t blame Steve Bruce for trying, nor Chris Hughton before him.

To sign a natural goal-scorer on the cheap is a managerial master-stroke. But to sell one on the cheap is foolish in the extreme. Hence Celtic’s continuing refusal to sanction a move for anything less than what they feel is right and deserved; in this case a reported £7million.

Hooper remains tight-lipped about his future. Not so Lewandowski, who has suggested first cryptically and then openly his desire to join Bayern Munich.

Also in the final year of his current deal, the Polish international looked certain to move on this summer. But while reports continue that he may join Manchester United, his desire to play for the German treble-winners suggests a year spent where he no longer wishes to be will lead to an unchallenged move to a place he most certainly does in 12 months.

There is no suggestion that Hooper will do that. But just as Dortmund have quoted foreign suitors £25.5million for a player who will cost nothing in a year, so Neil Lennon must hold firm to get at least the £7million asking price for Hooper should he ultimately fail to persuade him to stay.

The list of reported admirers for the 25-year-old appears to be at least half the Premier League. But clubs should now be fully aware that Celtic may sign bargains – as they did when they took Hooper from Scunthorpe United in 2010 for just £2.4million – but they don’t gift them to others.

You sense that ultimately, both Lewandowski and Hooper will be pulling on new shirts next season. It is a fact facing clubs whose star-players are only tied to them for so long.

But where some clubs may see a smaller fee as better than nothing, Hooper is too good for that thought to be entertained at Celtic Park.

Someone will ultimately pay the asking price; as with Lewandowski, they would be stupid not to.

Where do you think Hooper will be playing next season?  And how much is he worth?

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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