Neil Lennon has questioned the commitment of Jeremie Frimpong- before the 20-year-old has completed his transfer to Bayer Leverkusen.
News emerged at lunchtime on Tuesday that Frimpong was out of the country in transfer talks with a deal reportedly in the region of £11m almost completed.
The loss of a highly promising player after less than 50 appearances is frustrating to the Celtic support but as Lennon highlighted, even with Manchester City due 30% of the fee, the deal makes good business sense. Something that any accountant in the middle of a pandemic would appreciate.
In a clear effort to tarnish the name of the player Lennon revealed that the deal had been brewing for a few months. Either side of the trip to Dubai Frimpong started five SPFL matches before being on the bench at Livingston last week.
Lennon claimed that it was hard to bring the player’s mind back round, that there was a determination from Frimpong to leave and that he had been distracted by the speculation.
The Sun reported the Celtic boss saying:
We’re hoping that the deal goes through in the next 24 hours or so. We expect it to happen. It didn’t come as a surprise at all – this has been in the offing for the past couple of months.
We offered the player talks for a new deal a few months back but he declined and made it clear that he wanted to leave, despite our best efforts to keep him.
The size of the offer was good business for the club and the fact is that he’d also come off it a little bit in his last few games. It was as though he’d been distracted by all the speculation surrounding the move.
You’re sorry to see him go but, eventually, he didn’t want to stay and progress here. There was a determination about him to go so we took our decision. I feel a bit let down because we felt we could progress him further and we offered him a new deal which would have kept him here for another two or three years.
During the months of negotiations to leave Frimpong played in five matches totalling 390 minutes of Celtic’s Europa League group games. He is on a contract until June 2023, longer than Odsonne Edouard, Kris Ajer, Olivier Ntcham and Ryan Christie.
Reading through Lennon’s comments it’ll be very hard for Frimpong to opt out of the deal and return to Celtic. The Bayer Leverkusen management are perfectly entitled to drop their asking price, renegotiate the structure of the deal plus there is a medical to be completed.
Lennon may have some justified anger or frustration about the likely transfer but until the Leverkusen scarf is above the player’s head it is best to keep those thoughts to himself.
Leverkusen are sitting in third position in the Bundesliga and in line for an automatic spot in next season’s Champions League. Next month they face Young Boys of Berne for a place in the last 16 of the Europa League.