O'Neill hopeful that Juninho signing is imminent

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The Independent Football

The Celtic manager, Martin O'Neill, is hopeful the Scottish champions will sign Middlesbrough's Brazilian midfielder Juninho before the end of August.

The Irishman spoke with Juninho, who helped Brazil win the World Cup in 2002, after the player passed a medical at Celtic Park on Wednesday but told reporters on Friday he is waiting to hear from the midfielder.

O'Neill wants Juninho for the start of Celtic's Champions' League campaign next month and before the 31 August signing deadline for Europe's premier club competition.

"Middlesbrough gave us permission to speak to him and things went pretty well," said O'Neill. "It's not done and dusted yet. I'm hopeful, but until everything is signed then you never know."

The well-travelled Juninho, who began his career at Sao Paulo, has had three spells at Middlesbrough while also appearing for Spanish side Atletico Madrid. His total career transfer fees amount to over £22m.

O'Neill believes Celtic are an attractive prospect for Juninho. "We house 60,000 fans here every fortnight and are playing in Europe so that would be a big attraction to someone of that calibre," O'Neill said.

"I think he was pretty pleased with what he saw but at this minute there are a few things to discuss at Middlesbrough's end."

O'Neill hopes Juninho will not be his last signing of the close season but conceded he is not finding it easy to attract big name players to the unfashionable Scottish Premier League.

"Sometimes it takes longer to get a bit of quality in and I'm looking at other options but it is difficult to say how far they have progressed," added O'Neill, who confirmed defender Bobo Baldé has recovered from a mild form of malaria.

Celtic visit Inverness Caledonian Thistle on Sunday.