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New Celtic signing Johansen is an ego warrior

STEFAN Johansen has alreay served notice he is unfazed by big names and big price tags, writes Stewart Fisher.

Celtic's new midfielder showed no respect to the next generation of Barclays Premier League superstars as his Norway Under-21 side dismantled an England squad featuring the likes of Jordan Henderson and Wilfried Zaha 3-1 en route to a creditable third place finish in the European Championships in Israel.

"England had the names in the paper, but we didn't fear them. It was a good experience to see the level they were at," said Johansen, one of whose team-mates in that squad was former Celtic defender Thomas Rogne. "I don't think any of our guys were scared."

Johansen, player of the year for Norwegian SuperLiga champions Stromsgodset, arrived in Glasgow this week, fresh from the Norwegian national side's training camp in Abu Dhabi, with a few words ringing in his ear from Morten Gamst Pedersen, the former Blackburn player.

"I talked to Morten Gamst because I know him very well," said Johansen.

"I told him Celtic were interested. I asked him everything, what he thought about the city and stuff like that.

"He said 'of course you should go there and if you need help with something then call me'. I don't know why I asked him though, because I had already made my choice."

Having missed out on any summer down time last year due to that European Under-21 Championship, Neil Lennon may opt to rest the player to ensure his freshness for Champions League qualifying in July, but Johansen himself is eager to get started.

"Last season was a long season," he said. "In the summer when the guys had a few days off it was the Under-21 Championship, but when you come to a club like Celtic your battery is just filling up, you are so motivated to get started.

"The medical team at Celtic have done all these tests to see how my shape is. My weight was OK, my body fat was OK, the sprint test was OK, but it is something different to play matches. We will see, it is up to the manager."

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