Arrival of Juninho signals renewed ambition at Celtic

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Celtic finally completed the signing of Brazilian World Cup star Juninho from Middlesbrough yesterday on a two-year contract.

Celtic finally completed the signing of Brazilian World Cup star Juninho from Middlesbrough yesterday on a two-year contract.

The club delayed their annual team photograph so that the 31-year-old could take his place alongside his new teammates and manager Martin O'Neill.

It is a major acquisition for Celtic and arguably one of the club's best-ever signings, which comes ahead of the 31 August transfer deadline.

The club are still trying to get a work permit in time for him to make his Scottish Premier League debut in the Old Firm derby against Rangers at Parkhead on Sunday.

Juninho said: "It is a privilege to sign for Celtic Football Club and I am very much looking forward to this challenge in my new career.

"The club has enjoyed tremendous domestic success in recent years and has also once again made its mark in European football.

"I am really looking forward to joining up with the players at the club and will work hard in trying to ensure that we can continue to bring similar success to the supporters."

Juninho's arrival will appease the fans' demand for a big-name signing following the departures of favourites Henrik Larsson and Lubo Moravcik in recent years.

It is also one of the O'Neill's biggest coups in his managerial career, although he has insisted he will start his inquiries into new players at the top-scale of the transfer market and work his way down. He illustrated that in his attempts to sign Alan Shearer from Newcastle, but the signing of the Brazilian attacking midfielder certainly cheered him and the fans, who gathered outside Parkhead.

O'Neill said: "I am delighted to welcome Juninho to Celtic Football Club.

"He has proven himself to be a talented player over a number of years both in the English Premiership and at international level with a World Cup medal to his name.

"I am sure he will be a very important addition to the squad at Celtic."

It looked like being another frustrating summer for the club before the Champions' League group stages begin next month with Henri Camara the only arrival so far. Juninho also looked set to reject a move after saying he wanted to stay at the Riverside Stadium to fight for his place.

But having been dropped to the substitutes' bench by Steve McClaren, he decided on a move to Scotland and a place in Europe was definitely a lure.

O'Neill is still looking at other signings ahead of the deadline, but today's news takes some of the pressure off.

The Celtic chief executive, Peter Lawwell, said: "The Celtic board are committed to offering as much support as possible to Martin O'Neill in maintaining a high-quality first team - and the signing of a player with the credentials of Juninho is part of this aim. Completion is still subject to a work permit being granted but we are sure he will be a great success at Celtic."

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