Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell has stated his belief that Kieran Tierney was not sold cheaply to Arsenal, also claiming that the Hoops are not a selling club, The Daily Record report (AGM live blog, 12:55).
The Hoops let the Scottish international leave for the English Premier League during the summer transfer window for a £25m fee (BBC).
Answering questions from shareholders at the club’s AGM today, Lawwell also addressed an Ajax comparison, suggesting that the threat from Rangers makes it hard to match their model for success.
The Dutch side reached the semi-final of the Champions League last season and supporters have noted the similarities in their size and revenue relatives to the Hoops.
As reported by The Daily Record (AGM live blog, 12:55), when asked about the club’s ambitions and whether it wants to be Ajax or a selling club, Lawwell said: “The ambition is maximising potential of this great club, and going as far as we can go in Europe.
“Celtic is not a selling club, if you get a player like Kieran (Tierney) the attraction of a team like Arsenal becomes too much. As much as we wanted him to stay, it’s our job is to get the most money. I don’t believe Tierney was sold cheaply.
“Ajax hadn’t won league four years before their bold new dawn. Would you take Rangers winning the league for four years to maybe reach a Champions League semi-final?”
A fair assessment?
Some arguments around Tierney’s sale and others’ in recent years, such as Virgil van Dijk, have definitely asserted that we’ve let talents leave too cheaply to the mega-money Premier League.
For me, Lawwell is right. I don’t think Tierney left the club too cheaply either. We made it clear what our valuation of the player was, breaking our club record and Arsenal met it.
If we’d pushed for £30m or £40m, in line with some of the fees being spent for players down south, then it could have been seen as unrealistic. Until players prove themselves playing regularly at an elite level then there’s a ceiling to their value.
As for addressing Ajax comparisons, I don’t think there’s any harm in supporters dreaming of being at that level in years to come.
Sure, we want to ensure we are dominant domestically, but surely if we are so good at European level we would also be far too good for the Scottish Premiership?
You can see Lawwell’s point, it suggests he doesn’t want the manager to have to blood young players for years to the short-term detriment of trophy success.
Perhaps though with the appointment of Nick Hammond we can put a forward-thinking recruitment plan in place that allows us to compete on multiple fronts. So far this season, it all appears to be working.