As this transfer window nears its end, speculation still surrounds Celtic striker Gary Hooper. The Englishman has been linked with moves to various English Premier League sides with Norwich City seemingly leading the way, although Tottenham now look set to test the waters too.
But the big question is can Hooper make it in the EPL?
Well nothing can be guaranteed in football but for me there is no reason that Hooper can’t shine in England’s top league.
The player has two main attributes that would make him standout in my opinion.
He is quick and has a great instinct in front of goal. Those are two very valuable commodities in top class football.
At Parkhead, in his three and a half seasons Hooper has struck 74 goals in 118 appearances. There will be those that scoff ‘Buts thats in the SPL’ but this season he has four goals in nine Champions League games and a total of eight goals in 17 European outings for Celtic.
It is also worth noting in Hooper’s only season in the Championship with Scunthorpe Utd he managed to grab 19 league goals. Plus for those that have a laugh at the SPL just look at Nikica Jelavic’s time so far at Everton.
I don’t think Celtic have had a natural finisher like Hooper since Henrik Larsson left in 2004. I think he has been the best forward they have had since ‘King Henrik’ departed for Barca.
Hooper compliments his speed with intelligent running. He has a footballing brain, he doesn’t just run for the sake of running. He runs in behind and in between the defenders, into perfect spaces for teammates to find him, which creates chances for him to score goals.
Hooper can be a bit of a fox in the box. He likes to drift away from his markers in the penalty box and get on the end of low crosses for tap ins. He also loves a side foot finish, that sees his pace take him away from the last defender and he then side foots it beyond the keeper into the back post.
Not one who is often short of composer, Hooper also has good close control and able to score with both his left and favoured right foot.
Also a man for the big occasions, Hooper often managed to grab vital goals against Old Firm rivals Rangers.
Now would he want to leave Celtic at this moment in time?
I don’t see the immediate benefits. Should he stay at Celtic he has at least two more Champions League ties to think about against Italian giants Juventus. He would then also have the distinct chance of winning his second SPL title and leaving as a winner.
Celtic would prefer the player to the money at this time. They will want closer to £9m than the £5m that they have so far rejected. Hooper’s contract is up in 2014, so no doubt both parties will come to an arrangement that he can go in the summer if a bid of £7m plus comes in for him after May.
Yes I understand his frustrations in being continually overlooked from the England national squads but I am of the opinion he would have been included in the last friendly of the year against Sweden had he not been injured.
I suppose the big thing about a move now would be the possible destinations.
Gary would do very well at Norwich but does he need to leave Celtic now for that move? Not for me, he can hold out till the summer for that one. No disrespect to Norwich City but they aren’t exactly a dream move, although they are a well run club and could certainly highlight the players abilities.
Now if Spurs were to come calling then that might be different.
They are in the ‘Top Four’ and have a very good chance at getting into the Champions League next term. They have a very impressive squad with top players like Clint Dempsey, Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon there able to create a lot of chances for a smart thinking forward.
It could be too big an opportunity for Hooper to turn down. At the moment Tottenham only have two recognisable strikers in Jermain Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor. Defoe is currently injured and Adebayor is on international duty at the African Nations, so Hooper could come in and get a spot in the first team straight away. That may not happen in any summer move. Plus teams like Spurs don’t usually come calling twice.
Manager Andre Vilas Boas has himself been up to Glasgow to checkout the 25 year old goal getter.
Plus there is another slight twist to the Tottenham angle. Between the ages of seven to fourteen, Gary Hooper played with the Spurs youth sides before he was released. Hooper might just relish the opportunity to go back to White Hart Lane and prove himself now as an adult!
Whatever happens in this window, Hooper sits pretty. He knows their is interest in him from sides in one of the best leagues in the world and that it will only be a matter of time before he gets there. Should it not be now, then he has some important games to look forward to at Parkhead and he can leave Celtic as a winner in the summer.
For me when he does make it into the EPL, a few people may just get a shock when he races on to a few through balls and he starts banging in some goals. He is certainly capable of doing it thats for sure.
Posted on January 30th, 2013 by scott
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