DELIVERING a historic treble treble and generating a record £25m transfer fee, it seems, just isn’t enough for some people these days.

There are Celtic fans out there – although surely not too many of them – who feel that Kieran Tierney has committed some kind of act of betrayal by leaving his boyhood heroes Celtic for Arsenal on English deadline day. For the record, Neil Lennon isn’t one of them.

The Northern Irishman feels that Tierney leaves the club a bona fide Celtic legend, to be mentioned in the same breath as previous big money departures from the club like Kenny Dalglish, Charlie Nicholas and Virgil van Dijk.

And all this from a man who has more entitlement than anyone else to feel rather miffed about the affair. After all, he now has a Kieran Tierney size hole in his first team to plug.

“I would imagine he [Tierney] will be remembered very fondly,” said Lennon. “He’s been outstanding for this club. He broke into the team at 17 and never looked back, became a multiple winner of trophies and someone who has performed on the European stage and for his country. Even when he played right back for Gordon with Scotland the game looked easy for him.


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“So Kieran can go with his head held high and as a Celtic legend. He has gone for a record fee, just like others in the past like Kenny, Charlie, and van Dijk - you have to put Kieran up there with them.”

If making it from Celtic’s academy into the first team and on directly to one of the bigger fish in the English game were easy, quite simply more players would have done it.

While a Celtic statement released on Thursday evening shunted all the focus onto the move towards the player, in truth this was the kind of transfer where every party can feel pretty happy about the deal, even if an Arsenal statement yesterday confirmed fears that the player wouldn’t be fit to play for a number of weeks.

“We’re proud of the way we’ve developed him,” said Lennon. “We like that backlash now that world now with social media but it’s something I don’t buy in to.

“You’ve seen Kieran’s quotes,” the Northern Irishman added. “He loves the club and achieved everything he could in his short period of time.

“From a professional point of view, he sees this as a new challenge.

“I understand the disappointment, I share it myself, but there shouldn’t be any vitriol. He’s been a very good player for us but the club goes on. There are still very good players in the building.”

Lennon didn’t get to work with Tierney for all that long – Ronny Deila handed the teenager his debut – but he purrs about how “defensively strong” the player is, not to mention his real “end product”.

The Northern Irishman scoffs at the notion that the 22-year-old is somehow untested at this level, not least because he recalls watching the 3-3 draw against Manchester City in the Champions League at Parkhead.

Certain Celtic purists would have loved him to stayed for another couple of years but Arsenal could well have moved on by then.


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“He just looked made for that level,” said Lennon. “He had a cracking battle with Raheem Sterling and it was a high octane night as they gave plenty to a team who were at that point unbeaten in the Premier League. At 22 he’s got a lot in front of him.”

Gushing about what Tierney has to offer only serves to illustrate how difficult he would be to replace. With Boli Bolingoli deemed a “work in progress”, Lennon makes no secret of the fact he needs another left back – and a right back. Ideally, both could be in before the play-off round of the Champions League, assuming Celtic make it past CFR Cluj to get there. Rico Henry of Brentford has been linked with them, while Kilmarnock full backs Stephen O’Donnell and Greg Taylor are the two prime Scottish candidates.

“We want more competition at left back and at right back as well,” said Lennon. “We lost three of them over the summer. We’ve got Hatem [Abd Elhamed], who has been superb in the two games he’s played so far, but we need competition, the same for Boli as well.”

One man who is still at the club is Scott Sinclair, who saw the possibility of a move to English football fall through. “There was interest but nothing materialised, so we carry on as normal,” said Lennon, of a man who could benefit today from the injury to Mikey Johnston. “Scotty will be in the squad and he’s a player who can make a big contribution. He’s been unfortunate at the moment he’s finding it difficult to nail down a place because of the form of others.”

Matches such as today’s encounter at Motherwell aren’t easy when you are in the midst of those all-or-nothing play-off ties. “There will be a couple enforced anyway, with Jozo [Simunovic] suspended,” said Lennon. “It’s a quick turnaround. We got back at 4.30am on Thursday morning and you can’t do much in training on Friday with a noon kick-off.

“It’s about mental and physical recovery. But we’ve got the likes of [Olivier] Ntcham, [Maryan] Shved, [Leigh] Griffiths and [Christopher] Jullien who are all champing at the bit to play.”