David Turnbull chose Celtic over Norwich for footballing reasons and not cash, his new Parkhead boss Neil Lennon insists.
The 19-year-old Motherwell ace has finally put an end to the on-off transfer saga by agreeing a move to Celtic Park and will be unveiled once he completes a medical.
Celtic’s pursuit of the Scottish Football Writers’ Association Young Player of the Year has featured many twists and turns.
It looked like the Scotland Under-21 playmaker was set to make his move to Glasgow last week after the Hoops struck a £3.25million deal with Well chiefs, only for talks with Turnbull and his representatives to break down.
The Hoops then released a statement insisting they had made Turnbull a “magnificent offer” but were ready to “move on” to other targets unless the teenager had a change of heart.
With Parkhead chiefs then backing away from the deal, Turnbull flew south to meet with Canaries boss Daniel Farke after the Premier League new boys matched the package on offer from Celtic.
But the player, who scored 15 goals in his breakthrough campaign last year, has ultimately decided his future lies in a green and white jersey.
Lennon – who hopes to have further new arrivals on board by the time his team fly out for their pre-season training camp on Monday – shrugged off suggestions the dramatic chase had been frustrating.
“These things take time and some deals are quicker than others,” he said.
“David had options which he was quite right to pursue but thankfully he’s chosen us over Premier League clubs, which is quite a coup for us.
“We’re absolutely delighted to get this one over the line. I spoke to him on a number of occasions by phone, although today was the first time I got to meet him. We spoke maybe three or four times over the summer break. Whether that had any influence you’d have to ask David.
“But we know he spoke to Norwich and the decision came after that, which is fantastic for us.
“He’s chosen us over Norwich for footballing reasons, not financial. Trust me on that. That augurs well for the lad going forward.
“I think he sees Celtic as a great pathway for him to progress in his career and I would echo those sentiments.
“He’s a player we’ve admired for a while. He had a great season last year – a breakthrough season. He’s a very good Scottish talent that we want to nurture and bring on. Hopefully he’ll thrive in this environment.
“He’s quite an elegant player. Technically very good, proficient with both feet. He scored 15 goals in 30 goals,which is quite a return for a midfield player. We want him to carry on in the same vein.
“Could he go straight into the team? Of course he could.”
Lennon, who has learned that his side will kick off their quest for a ninth successive title with an opening-day clash against St Johnstone, now hopes the arrival of new recruitment chief Nick Hammond will allow him to speed up his transfer business before the squad heads for a 10-day tour of Austria and Switzerland.
The Hoops play three friendlies against Pinkafeld, Wiener and St Gallen before kicking off their Champions League bid against Sarajevo in Bosnia-Herzegovina on July 9.
Asked if he wanted his new arrivals in before the squad departs, the Northern Irishman replied: “That would be ideal. We could get them integrated, get some tactical work done and some physical work done and get them ready for the Champions League qualifiers.
“Nick is very experienced in recruitment. He was director of football at Reading and West Brom and his reputation and contacts in the game are impeccable.”