Celtic desperate to keep in-demand duo Wanyama & Hooper after Champions League progression

The two star players are yet to put pen to paper on new contracts in Glasgow, with a number of Premier League clubs said to be closely monitoring their situations ahead of January
By Chris Myson

Neil Lennon is desperate to keep star duo Victor Wanyama and Gary Hooper at Celtic and hopes his club’s progression to the Champions League knockout stages convinces them to stay.

The SPL champions have been locked in negotiations with the pair for several months now but as yet there has been no breakthrough despite a number of other key players committing their future to the Glasgow giants.

Powerful midfielder Wanyama has been heavily linked with Manchester United and Arsenal and is in the second season of a four-year deal he signed after joining the club in 2011.

Hooper, who scored in the famous midweek win over Spartak Moscow, is reportedly interesting Liverpool, Sunderland and Southampton and has 18 months left to run on his contract.

Lennon says the fact his club have made it into the elite 16 left in the Champions League is a selling point which cannot be offered by many other clubs and hopes that will play a part when talks with the two players continue.

He said at his press conference: "Why would they want to leave now when they have got something special to look forward to?

"Not many clubs can offer that. Gary Hooper's representatives are coming up over the weekend.

“We are hoping we can finally get something done on a positive note. Hopefully - but there is no guarantee.

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"With Victor Wanyama we will keep plugging away with his representatives as well and see if we can come to a conclusion that pleases everybody."

Celtic have already settled new deals with the likes of James Forrest, Charlie Mulgrew and Adam Matthews this season, but the signatures of Wanyama and Hooper are the ones Lennon desires most.

After the thrilling progression in the Champions League this week, the Celts are in line for a windfall of additional revenue. Lennon, however, does not expect to be splashing the cash come the opening of the January transfer window.

"I would not envisage spending a lot of money - I don’t think I need to," he said.

"I'm pretty happy with the squad we have got. We won the game against Spartak Moscow without Wanyama; we have basically been without James Forrest for most of the campaign.

“He is not far away now and Anthony Stokes will be fit by mid-January, so we are getting two really good attacking players back in.

"There are areas we would like to enhance the squad and we have been working on that for quite a while."

Lennon also took the opportunity to deny reports in Italy that suggested his side were eyeing up a January move for Juventus striker Vincenzo Iaquinta.