Football/Soccer

Celtic retain winger Mohamed Elyounoussi on loan deal

Celtic's Mohamed Elyounoussi scores his side's second goal of the game during the UEFA Europa League Group E match against Romanian side Cluj at Celtic Park, Glasgow.
The Irish News

Celtic manager Neil Lennon recently claimed it was not unrealistic that both Mohamed Elyounoussi and Southampton team-mate Fraser Forster could be back at Parkhead next season.

Yesterday he got the first half of the double up.

The Scottish champions have retained the popular Elyounoussi on another season-long loan.

The Southampton winger hit seven goals in 20 appearances last term in a campaign affected by a foot injury and then cut short by the coronavirus pandemic.

But the 25-year-old will get a further chance to impress the Celtic fans after the club confirmed his new loan deal.

Reports in Norway last week claimed he had a choice between going on loan to Celtic or Real Betis next season and the wide man has opted to stay in Scotland.

The Norway international was a £16million signing from Basel in the summer of 2018 but only made 11 starts in his debut season for Southampton.

Southampton team-mate Fraser Forster impressed throughout his season-long loan with Celtic but the goalkeeper has two years left on his Saints deal.

Celtic have also been linked with a potential move for another England goalkeeper, Joe Hart, following his departure from Burnley.

The 33-year-old only made three appearances for the Clarets this season, all in the FA Cup.

Scott Bain is the only experienced goalkeeper on Celtic's books following the departure of Craig Gordon to Hearts.

Meanwhile Filip Helander hopes his lengthy wait for a comeback has a silver lining and allows him to reach new heights for Rangers.

The Sweden defender took some time to settle into the Scottish game but shone on his recall for a 1-1 draw against Porto on October 24 last year.

However, his spell in the team ended when he was injured in the Betfred Cup final defeat by Celtic on December 8 and he was just about to make a comeback when the coronavirus pandemic struck Scotland.

But Helander was able to train earlier than his Scotland-based team-mates after returning to Sweden and he is raring to go ahead of the August 1 kick-off for the Scottish Premiership.

The 27-year-old told the official Rangers website: "When I arrived, I hadn't had a pre-season so I was a bit behind everyone else, then when I started to play, both October and November I think I played well and then I got injured.

"Hopefully I can get to an even higher level now. I was back with the team just before the lockdown, so it has been a long time since I last played a game.

"But I have been in Sweden during the lockdown so I have had the possibility to train there and have some football there back at home.

"Of course, there is still a long way to go, but whenever it is going to be, there is no excuse to not be ready and we are all looking forward to it."

Meanwhile, Rangers revealed they had exceeded 40,000 season ticket sales hours before the renewal deadline.

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Football/Soccer