In-demand Kone eyes Wigan exit
Sun, 23 Jun 2013 12:04:00
Three of Scotland's European hopefuls - Celtic, Hibernian and St Johnstone - will discover their opponents for the qualifiers in their respective competitions on Monday.
SPL winners Celtic are seeded and enter the Champions League at the second qualifying round stage while Hibs and St Johnstone are unseeded as they prepare to enter the Europa League qualifying second-round draw.
Should Neil Lennon's side progress they will need to win two more qualifying rounds to reach the group stage.
Last season, Celtic had to play one less qualifying round - overcoming HJK Helsinki and Helsingborgs on their way to the group stages - but have to clear one extra hurdle this time round because Scotland's co-efficient has slipped.
Motherwell do not enter the Europa League until the third qualifying round, which is drawn on 19 July.
Rubin Kazan, Standard Liege, Trabzonspor and Rosenborg are just some of the possible opponents for Hibs or St Johnstone in this week's draw.
With their stay in the English football's top flight over after eight years, Wigan are expected to lose several players during the summer transfer window.
The Ivorian striker scored 11 goals during his debut Premier League season, and Everton, now managed by former Latics boss Roberto Martinez, and local rvals Liverpool are thought to be two of the clubs interested in Kone.
Martinez claimed as recently as April that "the best is still to come" from Kone, 29, who joined Wigan from Spanish outfit Levante in August 2012.
"You always have ambitions as a footballer, and I don't intend to play in the English second division," declared Kone in The Sun.
"Wigan have gone down, which is a real shame. It's up to them to set out their stance about my situation. I aim to play for one of the best clubs in England, and I hope I will get the chance.
"I've had plenty of approaches, I can't reveal the names of the clubs. But Crystal Palace have gone up, and from the moment a club is in the Premier League that is good for me.
"I'm under contract with Wigan for two more years. But if there is an offer that is good for both me and Wigan I will seek to leave."