Should a Premier League club just bite the bullet and pay the asking price for the Celtic striker?
Goal-scorers are either the most sought-after or the most closely guarded of footballers, depending on your circumstances.
If you have one, you are unlikely to lose them without a fight. And if you need one, you had best be prepared for a scrap every bit as tough as the ones that take place on the pitch.
Signing a prolific frontman is akin to unearthing buried treasure; which is why the failure of any club to yet match Celtic’s valuation of Gary Hooper is confusing despite its economic sense.
In the last year of his contract, it can be argued that no team would pay £6million for a player who will cost nothing in 12 months. And yet it can just as easily be argued that the fee Celtic are reportedly asking for is nothing compared to the value Hooper’s goals will bring to a club.
When Norwich City had four failed bids back in January, the fact they tip-toed towards the Scottish club’s valuation in increments of £500,000 suggested they were only interested in a sale if it was on their terms – like a boot-sale haggler not afraid to walk away.
Similarly Hull City pulled out of the race for Hooper despite their knowledge that his goals could be the difference between a brief stay in the Premier League and the opportunity of making it their home.
With Norwich City now reportedly considering either Fabio Quagliarella or Maxi Lopez as a strike partner for Ricky van Wolfswinkel, it seems the only club currently making eyes at the former Scunthorpe striker is QPR.
But would he really turn his back on league titles and Champions League campaigns for a stab at Championship promotion?
It makes complete sense for Celtic to hold out for every last penny for a man who knows exactly where the goal is. What doesn’t make sense is the Premier League’s complete lack of faith in, or courage to sign, a man who has scored 81 goals in just three seasons; a man who at just 25 has the time and the talent to get even better.
Great strikers are necessities for any team wishing to be a success. But in the case of Hooper he appears to be an unwanted necessity. Unwanted, that is, by all but the club for whom he currently plays.
Where do you think Hooper will be playing next season? And are Premier League sides foolish for not paying Celtic's asking price?
image: © Ronnie Macdonald