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Celtic snapped up £6million Chris Sutton at long last on Saturday - but manager Martin O'Neill warned the club would not be held to ransom for Belgian international defender Joos Valgaeren.

The Parkhead boss announced that Sutton had penned a five-year contract following his Scottish record transfer - subject to Sunday's medical - and it is understood a £3.2m bid for Valgaeren is on the table.

But that does not match up to what JC Roda want for the player and O'Neill admitted: 'We won't get involved in much of a battle if it is going to be something that is beyond my reach.'

He added: 'We have made a bid - one that I think is correct but I would not be wanting to pay any more at this moment. I suppose I will leave it up to them. It may not be what the other club want to receive.'

Valgaeren said: 'I must admit I never thought I would be worth this money. I thought I was no more than a capable defender.

'I had a cruciate ligament injury 18 months ago and I am surprised what I have achieved after this. It made me

mentally stronger.

'I have had a good Euro 2000 and I have the confidence now to go to a top club like Celtic.'

Next on O'Neill's hit list is a winger to provide Sutton with the goal-scoring ammunition.

O'Neill said: 'The ones I bring in now will be of proven quality because I need them to do things quickly.

'I would ideally like some width in the team and I have people in mind now for this job.

'It might not be universally accepted but Chris is a top-class centre -forward. He can hold the ball up, bring others in to play and score goals.

'I was always very optimistic about him joining us and I did not mind him taking time to make his decision. He had a poor time at Chelsea but I believe he can recapture the form that put him into the England limelight.

'Gianluca Vialli thought fit to spend £10m on his services and I don't think he is a bad judge but some transfers work out and some don't.'

Sutton's new club play Bray Wanderers on Saturday afternoon but the Englishman will not join the squad until Tuesday when they arrive in Copenhagen on the second leg of their pre-season tour.

Meanwhile, Marc Rieper will have his Celtic future sorted out during the trip to his homeland. The Danish defender has not played for the club since sustaining a career-threatening toe injury in October 1998.

He remains under contract at Parkhead and moved into a coaching capacity after John Barnes, Eric Black and Terry McDermott were sacked last season.

Rieper arrived in the Republic of Ireland with the first-team squad yesterday and will travel to Denmark tomorrow.

He told a Danish newspaper: 'In Dublin, I will be assistant coach for Martin O'Neill but what happens after that and when we arrive in Copenhagen next week, I don't know. But I expect that Martin will find a new assistant.

'I spoke with Celtic and agreed that we should talk about the situation from now and in the next eight days. How that will end, I do not know.'
 
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