Neil Lennon hopes he will be given Kieran Tierney’s record £25m transfer fee to reinvest in his Celtic squad. Lennon was busy overseeing his team’s 1-1 Champions League draw with Cluj as reports broke that a deal had been struck with Arsenal to make Tierney Scotland’s most expensive ever footballer.
The 22-year-old boyhood Celtic fan is now on his way to London to put the final touches on a five-year deal at Arsenal. A medical is also to be completed but, provided there are no last-minute hitches, the left-back’s switch should be completed before Thursday’s 5pm English transfer deadline.
Tierney’s departure now leaves Lennon with a major hole to fill. His summer signing Boli Bolingoli deputised for Tierney in Romania but he had a night to forget, while Tierney has yet to return to action after a double hernia operation two months ago.
Lennon hopes he will be able to use some of the cash generated by Tierney’s sale to beef up his team. He told BBC Radio Scotland: “I hope so. There are a few areas I’d like to improve in.”
Speaking earlier in the evening, he said: “I don’t know [if a deal has been agreed] but it wouldn’t surprise me. These things tend to take their course. I’ve not had any confirmation but, if he goes, then he goes with everybody’s best wishes. He’s a superb player and will be a big loss to us.
“It shows the work that people have done at the club, whether it be Brendan Rodgers, Ronny Deila or the people at the academy to produce such a fine player. He’s an outstanding young talent and a great kid.”
Celtic’s captain, Scott Brown, echoed the thoughts of his manager as he added: “Kieran’s a fantastic player. There’s always going to be interest in him. He will be a big miss.”
While Tierney’s exit will deflate a fanbase that has taken the self-confessed Hoops diehard to their hearts, Lennon will hope to raise their spirits by leading Celtic back to the Champions League group stages.
And his team are well-placed to reach the play-offs after the draw in Transylvania.
Mario Rondón drew first blood for the hosts when he slotted home just before the half-hour but Lennon’s team now return to Glasgow packing a vital away goal after James Forrest quickly cancelled out the opener.
“It’s a great result,” Lennon added. “The away goal is priceless for us. The guys will be a match fitter for it. You could see at the end some of them were starting to struggle with the heat. It’s been a tough game but a great night’s work and we’re looking forward to the second leg.
“I was delighted with our attacking play and we looked really dangerous early on. Maybe our final ball just let us down a little bit but I always felt we’d have the capability of scoring. They scored a great goal on the counter but our reaction was superb.” It bodes well for the second leg on Tuesday.