Teemu Pukki to Celtic: Hoops Sign Schalke Striker on 4-Year Contract

Ben SnowballContributor IAugust 31, 2013

PIRAEUS, GREECE - SEPTEMBER 18:  Teemu Pukki of FC Schalke 04 during the UEFA Champions League group stage match between Olympiacos FC and FC Schalke 04 at the Karaiskakis Stadium on September 18, 2012 in Piraeus, Greece. (Photo by Dimitri Messinis/EuroFootball/Getty Images)
EuroFootball/Getty Images

Celtic have signed Finland striker Teemu Pukki from Schalke on a four-year deal.

Pukki struggled to get a regular run with the Bundesliga side, partly due to the form of the prolific Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, and moves to Scotland the same week the Bhoys dramatically secured their place in the Champions League group stages. 

James Forrest’s stoppage-time strike sealed a 3-2 aggregate win over little-known Kazakhstan side Shakhter Karagandy in the final qualifying round and the lure of elite European football makes Celtic an attractive option.

"The carrot of the Champions League might be a bigger draw for a lot of players now," said Celtic manager Neil Lennon, according to the BBC.

"I think it puts us in an excellent position but they will have to play well to get into that team."

Pukki has scored six goals in 24 international appearances, including an equaliser against Spain in World Cup qualifying which earned a shock draw against the world and European champions.

After impressing in Finland as a youngster with FC KooTeePee, he moved to La Liga with Sevilla, but played the majority of his football with their reserve side as he struggled to break into the first team. A move back home to Finland followed before he switched to Germany, where he played for two seasons.

The task for Pukki at Celtic will be filling the void left by last season’s top goalscorer, Gary Hooper, who left for Norwich City earlier in the summer. He possesses nimble footwork, a smart finish and is also good in the air. If he can average more than a goal every two games, as Hooper did, Celtic should have few problems retaining their Scottish Premier League title. 

Last season, they pulled off a huge upset as they beat Barcelona. Despite finding domestic football tricky to come by at Schalke, Pukki actually started three Champions League matches, although he failed to score.

He will be relishing the chance to play against some of Europe’s biggest sides after the group stage draw matched Celtic with Barcelona, AC Milan and Ajax. If he can lead the Bhoys to another success over Lionel Messi and company, then he will quickly become a favourite at Celtic Park.