Time for Celtic to dip into their pockets for Johnny Russell

Posted by Andy Muirhead

AP PhotoDundee United striker Johnny Russell has already been targeted by Serie A side Catania.

With Gary Hooper linked with a move away from Parkhead in the summer, despite Neil Lennon wanting the striker to stay, one player who Celtic should be going for is Dundee United's Johnny Russell.

The striker will cost a fraction of the price that Celtic will need to pay for a proven striker from the continent, and not only that, he is tried and tested in the SPL.

However, Celtic need to get their hands out of their pockets and pretty sharpish too, as Serie A outfit Catania have seen their third bid knocked back by Dundee United.

With Russell set to enter the final year of his contract at Tannadice, United could sell him before they lose him for nothing next summer.

United issued a statement this morning, claiming that Russell's agent has told the club that his client "will not sign a contract extension and that he wishes to leave Dundee United".

According to United, Catania's second offer was: "€450,000 (in instalments) three weeks ago and this was rejected".

The third is reportedly around €800,000, but it is expected that United will knock this back also. And this is where Celtic should step in and offer United just over £1 million for the Scotland Under-21 international's signature.

After Celtic lost out on Steven Fletcher in 2009, they were lambasted for it by the fans; they cannot lose Russell to Catania or even to the English leagues.

Celtic need a striker that can score over 20 goals a season. Hooper has bagged 27 goals this season in all competitions -- only Georgios Samaras and Kris Commons have come close to breaching the 20 goal mark for the season. Despite injury curtailing Russell's last few months, he still scored 20 goals in 35 games for the Tannadice side, who relied on much of their creativity from Gary Mackay Steven. Just imagine what Russell could do up front for Celtic with the players at their disposal, and even more so if Celtic decide to snare Mackay Steven also.

Time for Peter Lawwell to dip into the club's coffers and pay the going rate for Russell. It's not as though the coffers are moth ridden -- after all, the Champions League campaign has given the Parkhead side and its board a pretty penny to work with.

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