In the constant merry-go-round of strikers linked with West Ham, one of the names which refuses to go away is that of Celtic’s Gary Hooper. The former Southend and Scunthorpe striker has made a name for himself while playing in the SPL as one of the most prolific strikers in Britain scoring 63 goals in 95 league games, better than a goal every other game. His impressive goals to games ratio has led to many clubs in the English top tier having an interest in the 25 year-old. Clubs such as Southampton and Hull City have been known to hold a firm interest in the prolific front man and it seems we are the latest to be linked with his signature.
As we all know the difference in class between the SPL and English Premier League is a major one and it is a step which many have struggled to make in the past. David Goodwillie is a good example of this. There is a reason why the only clubs who have come in for him include a newly promoted side, Hull, and a newly relegated side, QPR! Not one big name side in England have tried to sign Hooper and the reason for that is the sheer gulf in class between the two leagues. A player can go from scoring 20 goals per season in the SPL to 5 goals per season in the EPL. The fact that Hooper has an even better scoring ratio for Celtic than he did in the Championship and League One tells you all you need to know.
The quality of defenders in the SPL is ludicrously bad. Celtic’s former star defender now plays for Wigan and was recently relegated with them. I cannot begin to explain how much of a shock it would be for Hooper if he went from playing against St Mirren defenders to playing against Vincent Kompany and Nemanja Vidic. EPL defenders do not make half of the mistakes that defenders in Scotland do and one of Hooper’s main goal sources is poaching from defenders mistakes, something which he would struggle to find in the our league! Another hint to how low the SPL is thought of by managers is the fact that Hooper has one of the best scoring records of any English striker and yet he has never been picked to play for England!
We saw last season how reluctant Celtic were to let Gary Hooper leave and rejected bids of up to £10 million from Hull for him. In my opinion there is absolutely no way on Earth that Hooper is worth more than Carlos Tevez who joined Juventus from Manchester City for the same amount. No doubt people will say “neither is Andy Carroll” and I agree but I would much rather have Carroll than Hooper! My point is that due to Celtic’s high valuation of Hooper, it would be pointless for us to even enter negotiation for a player who I believe to be worth nothing more than £3-4 million!