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Neil Lennon plans Diego Laxalt Celtic mission as he backs Hoops new boy to copy Philippe Coutinho

Daily Record logoDaily Record 6 days ago Gavin Berry

Neil Lennon hopes Diego Laxalt can help Celtic land a Euro blow on parent club AC Milan.

The Celtic boss saw Philippe Coutinho stick the knife into
 Barcelona while on loan from them at Bayern Munich.

Now he hopes the Uruguayan new Bhoy can follow suit in Thursday’s Europa League Group H opener against the Italians at Parkhead.

Lennon, who handed loan ace Laxalt his debut in Saturday's Old Firm defeat, said: “It’s great that he’s free to play against them but it can leave you with a bit of a bloody nose sometimes.

“Barcelona were okay with Coutinho playing against them and it might have come back and bit them a bit.

“Of course we’ll be leaning on Diego a lot in the coming days before the game but we’re not just talking about this specific game.


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“It’s a good career move and important for his development to play regularly and the British culture is a style he wants to adapt to.

“Most importantly he wants to play well for us. He made it clear he wanted to come and play here and he’s fully focused and excited at the season ahead. He knows he’s going to be an integral part of the squad.

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“He’s probably been unfortunate not to play more for AC Milan. He had a good spell at Torino last season and has been a brilliant player for his country over the last few years.”

AC Milan aren’t the force they once were but after having their struggles last season have been on a storming unbeaten run, with their derby win over Inter making it 20 without loss since they emerged from lockdown.

They finished 12 points behind Lazio – whom Celtic beat home and away last season – in Serie A but Lennon knows they’re a team on the up under Stefano Pioli.

Lennon, whose side lost out to Milan after extra-time in the 2007 Champions League last 16, said: “The coach has come in and settled things down. He’s rebuilding but they’re still a quality side and we very much look forward to playing them.”

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