Hoops, Hooper and silly transfer fees

Southampton look to have finally been told to pack up, go home and stop pestering Gary Hooper after the sought after striker himself quashed speculation linking him with a projected move all the way to the south coast of England from Celtic.

It is not because of the rise in petrol prices or the baulking at the quoted bus fare that has prevented transfer, no, it is because the former Scunthorpe striker is happy with the SPL leaders, apparently.

Nigel Adkins had wanted to re-unite himself with Hooper who has scored 16 goals from 29 appearances so far for Celtic this season and his interest was such it was bordering on the harassment, Southampton have already seen two bids knocked back for the forward who had a strike-rate better than a public-sector worker when with Adkins at Scunthorpe, scoring 43 times in a total of 80 matches.

There is no doubt Hooper is a talent, but Celtic boss Neil Lennon might have gone a little overboard on his rating of his talismanic striker. “If I had to put a price tag on Gary’s head then it would be £35 million”, he said when asked about any potential interest. You what!? I hear you cry and drop your coffee, £35 million, for a striker who has played no higher than the Europa League? Well, yes, Neil Lennon seems to think so, after all, it happened to Andy Carroll.

Unsurprisingly, Southampton have failed to come good with that fee and it looks like the 23 year old Hooper will remain at Celtic Park for the considerable future where he has resembled some kind of netting machine, scoring 38 goals from 65 matches since making the £2.5 million move from Scunthorpe in the summer of 2010. Hooper says he is “very happy” at Celtic and that his “job is to score goals” and it looks like he is doing a mighty fine job at it north of the border.

However, like a besotted boy after the good-looking girl from down the street who has invested in a fog-horn to say she is not interested, determined Southampton look to be weighing up the idea of coming back in for a new bid, rumoured to be in the region of £7.5 million. Even though that is expected to be given short-shrift, Adkins is not going away without a fight.

As it is, they may have to settle for another option, Roma’s Stefano Okaka who has been loaned out more than a Blockbuster’s DVD has been mooted; he had an unsuccessful loan spell for Fulham at the back end of last season.

Why even free-scoring Southampton even need a new striker is uncertain, being the Championship’s top scorers with 50 goals, but they seem to be intent on bagging themselves one. However, it looks unlikely Adkins will welcome back his prodigal son Gary Hooper anytime soon. It looks like, as Phil Collins once said, he’ll just have to wait.


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