Strachan 'on lookout' as Balde exits

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The Celtic manager Gordon Strachan is ready to take advantage of Bobo Balde's expected transfer to Marseille by moving for a quality defender.

The 29-year-old Balde - who earns £28,000 a week at Celtic Park - arrived from Toulouse in July 2001 and went on to become a fans' favourite.

Although a clause in the Guinea international's contract allows him to move on for nothing, Celtic will not lose out after benefiting from a free transfer themselves four years ago.

Now, though, the Hoops' manager is set to take advantage of cash freed up by the removal of Balde from the wage bill.

Balde has not enjoyed a comfortable start to the season after being linked with Bayern Munich this summer and then being made the scapegoat for the 5-0 Champions' League defeat by Artmedia Bratislava in Slovakia last month.

The central defender was dropped for the 4-4 draw in the Scottish Premier League opener at Motherwell, but was reinstated to the starting XI for the second leg against Artmedia where the Hoops almost overturned the huge deficit with a four-goal win.

Strachan insists his preparations will not be badly affected by the departure of Balde.

He said: "We were on the look-out for defenders anyway, so we should, hopefully, be able to do something relatively quickly."

But the former Coventry and Southampton manager has assured fans Balde did not disappear to speak to the French club without notifying Celtic of his intentions. Strachan added: "With Bobo, unfortunately there is nothing we can do. It is in his contract that he is allowed to speak to other clubs and that is exactly what he is doing at the moment with Marseille.

"But it is not right to say he has done a runner. We were well aware of what was happening - he told me after the game on Saturday and informed the club formally in a letter - so it is not like he has gone behind our backs or disappeared without telling anyone."