Football: Celtic to sanction major signings

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The Independent Online
DAVID McKINNEY

It may have taken Celtic a while to realise that a corner shop mentality cannot compete with the supermarkets but it seems they are now poised to flex some financial muscle by breaking the club's transfer record, set two years ago when they paid Bolton Wanderers pounds 3.5m for Alan Stubbs.

Although transfer dealings have increased dramatically since Fergus McCann swept into power a few years ago they have been subject to tight fiscal control from above of late.

But that could be about to change as the club attempt to replace the talents of Pierre van Hooijdonk, Paolo Di Canio and Jorge Cadete, the Portuguese striker having been finally placed on the transfer list while he remains in his native country with personal problems.

Wim Jansen, the new coach, has already watched Bebeto, a member of Brazil's 1994 World Cup winning side, and while it seems at the age of 33 this would be an uncertain investment, Celtic are at least thinking big.

Their requirement is for one or two creative players and at least one goalscorer to help replace the foreign trio who contributed 64 of the 97 goals scored last season.

Celtic's erratic form this season has seen them lose their first two league games but beat St Johnstone 2-0 in a cup tie and again in the league on Saturday. They will approach tomorrow's Uefa Cup tie against FC Tyrol trailing 2-1 from the first leg and Jansen must hope for a better return from his front men.

More of their most recent form would be most welcome to Rangers for whom Marco Negri scored all five goals in the 5-1 defeat of Dundee United on Saturday. They will need it if they are to overhaul a 3-0 deficit to IKF Gothenburg in their Champions' League qualifying tie.

United will hope to keep things tighter against Trabzonspor of Turkey in the Uefa Cup while Scotland's other European representative, Kilmarnock, face Shelbourne of Ireland having conceded 10 goals in their last two games.

On Saturday they lost 4-0 to Hibs, a result that kept the Edinburgh club at the top of the league after three games although Rangers who have played a game less are just one point behind.

Even this early in the season the knives are being sharpened for Roy Aitken, the Aberdeen manager. A 3-1 home defeat by Motherwell means Aberdeen have won just two league games since Christmas.

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