Lennon happy about Finnbogason exit
Neil Lennon revealed that money made from the sale of Ki Sung-yueng to Swansea will be used to pay off some of Celtic’s debt.
Swans chairman Huw Jenkins confirmed that the Welsh club have agreed a fee, reportedly between £5-6million, with Celtic for the 23-year-old South Korea midfielder and personal terms are now being discussed.
Speaking in Helsingborgs before the first leg of their Champions League play-off clash with the Swedish champions tonight, the Celtic boss spoke about the money the sale of Ki will generate, more in relation to the club’s debt, which stood at just over £7million in February, than reinvestment into his squad.
Lennon said: "It will help fund the debt, we have to get the debt down a little bit so that will help towards that.
"We will see where we go after these two games and see what money we have to spend, if (any) at all.
"I might not (get the Ki money) I might get some of it, I don’t know.
"One, I don’t know what the fee will be and two, I don’t know how much we will use to service the debt.
"We are in advanced discussions with a club at the minute and we are hoping that the deal will go through.
"I am not at liberty to say (if it’s Swansea) but there may be interest from other clubs as well.
"He is not here, we have given him a bit of extra time because he has a lot to think about."
The Northern Irishman believes the sale of Ki represents "good business" for a player who cost Celtic £2million when he joined the club from FC Seoul three years ago.
He said: "He has only 15 months left in his contract and we feel it is a good offer and good business on our side.
"It is unfortunate to lose a quality player but that has been our strategy at the club for the last two or three years, cultivate these players and eventually move them on if they want to go.
"We haven’t got a set fee for any players but we feel the offer is one that is good for us.”
After beating HJK Helsinki home and away in the third qualifier, Lennon is confident that his players are ready to break through the glass ceiling to reach the group stages of the Champions League.
The former Hoops skipper said: "We have been together two years and a lot of players know we haven’t done as well as we maybe should have.
"We got through a tough tie in Helsinki and that will give the players a lot of confidence.
"They all want to play Champions League football but we have two difficult games to overcome before we can start talking about that."
Lennon is delighted that Helsingborgs’ top scorer, Alfred Finnbogason, has left the club but admits he knows little of Nikola Djurdjic, the replacement striker who signed for Age Hareide’s side from Haugesund today and who is available to play tonight.
Icelandic striker Finnbogason had been on loan with Helsingborgs from Belgian side Lokeren, scoring 12 goals in 17 appearances since arriving in March.
It was reported that Finnbogason had agreed to a permanent move to Helsingborgs before deciding to sign for Dutch side Heerenveen.
Lennon said: "It is a bonus for us because he (Finnbogason) is a very good player and he was in good goalscoring form.
"I think a lot of Helsingborgs play went through him so he will be a loss to them.”
Lennon’s knowledge of Djurdjic was admittedly more scant.
He said: "I know the name but I don’t know too much about him.
"That is one they might throw in as a surprise package, I don’t know but obviously if he has a good goalscoring record in Norway then he is obviously one we will keep an eye on.
"But we have no information on him as yet. We will have to check him out."
Lennon is more familiar with Alejandro Bedoya, the Rangers flop who recently moved to Helsingborgs and who scored a spectacular goal in their 2-1 defeat by Elfsborg at the weekend.
The Parkhead manager said: "It is difficult sometimes to grow in the Old Firm environment.
"He came from Swedish football so maybe he is better suited to Swedish football and he came at a difficult time in the club’s history (Rangers).
"But no doubt he will be a threat, we had him watched at the weekend, he scored a very good goal and I think he, more than most, will be motivated to play us."
Celtic’s attacking threat will come from Georgios Samaras, who believes it is time the Hoops took their place again at the top table of European club football.
Samaras is confident the Scottish champions can qualify for the group stages for the first time since 2008/09 and the first time under Lennon.
The Greek striker said: "We are the same players and every month, every year, we are getting closer together and getting to know each other better so I think this is the moment to go to the highest level.
"We want to play at the top level and the Champions League is the highest level in European football.
"Europa League is European football but we did that last year and I think we were a bit unlucky not to go through.
"But I think our team is more mature now and ready to go to the highest level.
"We want to raise the bar a bit higher and the aim is to be in the group stages of the Champions League."