SCOTT BROWN believes that Gary Hooper would command a fee of "£15m or £20m" were he playing in the Barclays Premier League.
Celtic turned down a £5m offer from Norwich City for the striker and have expressed a determination to hold on to their leading goalscorer should further bids from Norwich or other suitors be forthcoming. Manager Neil Lennon has admitted that "every player has a price" but Brown felt that Norwich's valuation of Hooper fell far short of his team-mate's true worth.
"You can understand why teams like Norwich are looking at him and it's only a matter of time before someone else puts another bid in for him," said the Celtic captain. "We want to keep the strongest team possible, but some players come and some players go. I just hope he's one who stays.
Loading article content
"Everyone puts Gary down just because he plays in Scotland for Celtic. If he was doing this week-in, week-out in the English Premiership, he'd be worth £15m or £20m.
"It's hard the way people see players [in Scottish football], but we're in the Champions League right now and doing better than a lot of the clubs down there."
Johan Mjallby, the Celtic assistant manager, confirmed there had been no fresh bids for Hooper and that none would be welcomed. "We are desperate for Gary to stay," he said.
"It would be difficult to lose him when we've got the big Juventus game [in the Champions League] coming up as even if you get a lot of money you never know if you can replace him at short notice."
Charlie Austin, the Burnley striker, has been spoken of as a possible replacement should Hooper move on. "Charlie is a proven goalscorer and obviously he might come in handy in the future," said Mjallby.
Celtic have also been linked with Bosnian Muamer Svraka, a holding midfielder at FK Zeljeznicar, and Ivaylo Vasilev, a goalkeeper with Levski Sofia. The 21-year-old has been told he is free to find a new club and would be inexpensive.
One player definitely coming to Celtic is Tom Rogic, who last week signed a four-and-a-half-year deal, after he received a work permit. Rogic will now return to Australia to conclude the paperwork.