Monday, January 21, 2013
Chris Hughton wants Danny Graham and Gary Hooper to boost Norwich’s Premier League survival mission – but the City boss will play no part in the transfer window horse-trading.
Hughton confirmed after watching Liverpool dismantle his side that separate bids – reportedly in the region of a combined £10m for both – have been made for Swansea hitman Graham and Celtic’s English-bred forward Hooper.
The former Scunthorpe striker struck another brace in the Bhoys’ 4-1 weekend league win over Hearts, after which Parkhead chief Neil Lennon revealed he expects City to up the ante with a renewed offer after Celtic rejected their opening gambit.
Hughton has identified Hooper and Graham as the men to add fresh firepower to his squad, but the Norwich boss knows that hinges on City’s negotiating prowess behind-the-scenes.
“That’s left to the powers-that-be. Most are aware that we have put in a couple of offers for players. Now it is down to others to see whether that has any more mileage in it.
“Ultimately those players are not ours, they belong to other clubs and they will have the say on whether that goes any further.
“But we’re trying and we’re pushing. They are additional players we feel would strengthen our squad. Numbers-wise, we’re okay but certainly if there’s the opportunity to add quality to what we have, then we will look for that opportunity and we have worked very hard to do that.
“Of course the communication is between clubs and Celtic made a statement (on Hooper), which we have to respect, and he is their player so we see where it takes us.”
Lennon reiterated Celtic are under no pressure to sell one of their prized assets but he admitted every member of his squad has their price – including Hooper.
“We had a chat on Friday night after speaking to his representatives and we wanted to make our position clear to him and he is quite comfortable with it all,” said Lennon.
“We have made it clear that we are not selling him, we don’t want him to go, especially at this juncture of the season.
“However, everyone has their price and what Gary’s price is will be down to the board and myself to decide. What we were offered on Thursday was nowhere near our valuation of the player.
“We don’t have a set figure, however, goalscorers are at a premium and Gary is a goalscorer so we will set the bar pretty high for him. I am hearing that they (Norwich) might come again but good luck to them on that.”
Hooper has 18 months of his current deal with the reigning Scottish champions and Champions League last 16 qualifiers left to run.
Lennon believes the 24-year-old, who took his tally to 19 goals in 30 games at the weekend, can emulate former Norwich loanee Fraser Forster and eventually break into the England reckoning plying his trade north of the border.
“He is at a big club as it is and he is in the Champions League. His ambition possibly is to play in the Premier League and I think he is good enough to do it now, there is no question about that,” he said.
“It just depends on the level he wants to play at and I don’t think he is far away from international level as well.
“I mentioned him to Roy (Hodgson) last week and he said he is keeping tabs on the two boys so it’s all good.
“I am not going to stop any of the guys’ progress because I wouldn’t have wanted that done to myself.
“But I am the manager of the club and they have to do what (chief executive) Peter Lawwell and I think is best for the club’s interests and, in the short term, it is keeping Gary Hooper here.
“But we still have two weeks to go of the transfer window and the last week gets pretty heavy. I am sure he is on the radar of plenty of clubs, it’s just Norwich who have come in first.”