Celtic manager Neil Lennon is preparing for the imminent departure of highly-rated goalkeeper Fraser Forster amid reported interest from AC Milan and Portuguese Primeira Liga giants S.L. Benfica, Sky Sports understands.
Forster, 25, has established himself as one of Europe’s top shot-stoppers over the past two seasons in the UEFA Champions League.
The former Newcastle United goalkeeper has put an enormous amount of pressure on England No. 1 Joe Hart this season, with some pundits calling for the 25-year-old to replace Joe Hart in goal for the Three Lions.
As previously mentioned, Forster’s scintillating form has caught the eye of AC Milan, with reports suggesting the Serie A side are pondering an £8 million move for the player during the January transfer window.
Milan currently have four goalkeepers — Christian Abbiati, Ferdinando Coppola, Gabriel and Marco Amelia — in their first-team squad, three of whom (Abbiati, Coppola and Amelia) are over the age of 30.
The potential addition of Forster would give the Milan a long-term replacement for the aging Abbiati, who joined the Rossoneri from A.C. Monza Brianza 1912 in 1998.
“It’s going to be impossible to keep Fraser the way he’s playing,” Lennon told PLZ. “Inevitably, I think a huge club will come in and make a huge bid for him.
“Sometimes it is very frustrating as a manager, as you are trying to build something, you are trying to progress the club but it is a huge compliment about what we have done over the past two or three years and it’s put the club on the map again.
“People might say I am biased but over the last two seasons in the Champions League he has proved at the highest level he’s a fantastic goalkeeper and he’s still only 24.
“For a keeper who is still so young. He’s got so much more to come.
“The way he’s playing at the minute and the fact he’s knocking on the door to be England’s No 1 playing in the Scottish league, that speaks volumes for his talent.”
Meanwhile, Celtic could bring in Greece and Panathinaikos goalkeeper Stefanos Kapino to replace Forster at Parkhead.
The Celts will travel to Firhill to face Partick Thistle on Sunday.
Villa wanted Lukaku
Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert has revealed he attempted to sign Belgium international striker Romelu Lukaku from Chelsea prior to agreeing a deal for Christian Benteke last summer.
Benteke, who joined Villa from K.R.C. Genk for a fee of £7 million, is expected to make his first Premier League start for Villa since September, having fully recovered from a hip injury.
The Belgian compatriots are two of the hottest young players in Europe at the moment, and rightfully so.
Both Benteke and Lukaku — 6/4 to score at anytime at Villa Park on Saturday — have been on scintillating form since the start of last season, with the duo combining for 36 league goals last term.
“I remember when I first came in here I spoke to Chelsea about Lukaku before we saw Christian,” said Lambert ahead of Villa’s clash against Everton at the weekend.
“I knew about him and this club needed somebody to be that type of player.
“Obviously we couldn’t afford that at that time and Christian came in. The rest is history, as they say. They’re totally different players but the two of them are a threat.”