I wanted to come to Celts in 2015!


Sunday Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - Sport - BY GOR­DON WAD­DELL

MO­HAMED ELY­OUNOUSSI could have been a Celtic player four years ago if the Hoops hadn’t balked at his price tag.

Now he reck­ons his ar­rival is bet­ter late than never.

The Norwegian winger, who penned a sea­son-long loan deal from Southamp­ton on Fri­day night, ran riot in a Europa League dou­ble header for Molde against Ronny Deila’s side.

Af­ter grab­bing two goals and two as­sists in back-to­back home and away wins, Deila was im­pressed enough to make a move – but the 3.2mil­lion Eu­ros he eventually went to Swiss champs Basel for was too rich for Peter Lawwell’s blood.

And af­ter train­ing with his team-mates for the first time yes­ter­day morn­ing at Len­nox­town, the 25-year-old grinned: “Now I get the chance to do it for Celtic rather than against them.

“I had a good ex­pe­ri­ence in those games back in 2015.

“I knew about Celtic’s in­ter­est back then. From what I’ve heard, though, I was a bit too ex­pen­sive, al­though I can’t con­firm that.

“I do re­mem­ber at that time I wanted to come to Celtic, es­pe­cially af­ter play­ing at the sta­dium. The at­mos­phere was amaz­ing that night – un­til we scored.

“I would have signed if I could, it was my wish to come back then but it’s bet­ter late than never. And this Celtic team looks bet­ter now.

“The qual­ity and intensity is there, and maybe the or­gan­i­sa­tion and shape. I re­mem­ber I had a lot of time on the ball against Celtic.

“The team is more ag­gres­sive now and they play with more intensity. The re­sults talk for themselves.”

That intensity is what Ely­ounoussi is here to re­dis­cover for him­self.

A £16m trans­fer to Saints last sum­mer, the 22-cap play­maker was at the peak of his pow­ers, earn­ing the move with an ar­ray of end prod­ucts that in­cluded 66 goals in 177 games be­tween the Norwegian and Swiss top flight sides.

Her ar­rives at the Hoops with it all still to prove, how­ever, af­ter a stop-start sea­son in the EPL left him low on con­fi­dence.

But he insisted: “I don’t think I will strug­gle to get back to that level of intensity.

“I need a bit of time to get to know the play­ers, that would be the only thing. I feel fit enough to play but it’s the gaffer’s de­ci­sion.

“What was miss­ing last sea­son? It was all small de­tails. It didn’t start great because I was in­jured and it took some time, it was my first game and I got in­jured when I’d never had one in my ca­reer.

“But I got back, then the man­ager got sacked, a new man­ager came in – a lot of things went on and it was hard to get mo­men­tum.

“As a player you want to play more so that’s why I’m here, to get back to where I was.”

The Norwegian might have taken some time to get to Celtic Park but now that he’s here he’s happy he made the right choice.

He Said: “This is the right choice for me. The size of the club and the way they play foot­ball too.

“They play at­tack­ing foot­ball. I liked it in­stantly and wanted to be part of it.”

I knew about Celtic’s in­ter­est back in 2015. I think I might have been a bit too ex­pen­sive but I can’t con­firm that!

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