He’s done it in the lower leagues for Scunthorpe and in the Scottish Premier League for Celtic. Indeed, his record north of the border had Norwich frantically searching for the right formula on deadline day – placing five bids on the table only to see each of them wiped away.
But, in the dark, unknown world of backroom deals and handshakes, Hooper has allegedly made clear his wish to return to England. The Metro reports that he has refused to sign a new contract and has been granted a free passage to England in the summer.
Hooper’s wish is for that passage to lead directly to Tottenham, where he played in the youth team before being released early in his career. Celtic apparently want £10million – a price that Spurs were hesitant to meet in January.
In his three seasons at Celtic Park the Englishman has scored 74 goals in 121 games, with 23 coming this season. According to reports he has instructed his agent to ignore interest from Liverpool and Newcastle.
So, his intentions are clear. But, what about Spurs’s?
A new striker is needed to complement Jermain Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor. Clint Dempsey has yet to replicate his Fulham form and Harry Kane is 19 and full of enthusiasm.
Gareth Bale’s recent spurt of goals means he is now top goalscorer with 15. Defoe is one behind, while Dempsey has eight. Sharing goals throughout the team is admirable, but it can’t be a conscious decision.
If Andre Villas Boas really wants to challenge for the league champioship he needs to find – through any means possible – his equivalent of Robin Van Persie or Luis Suarez. To some degree Bale is just that, but he isn’t a striker, nor should he be expected to out-score the likes of Defoe.
Gary Hooper may or may not be that man. His career trajectory suggests not, but his record shows he knows where the goal is. The danger is his lack of experience. Despite playing and scoring in the Hoops’ Champions League success, he hasn’t moved beyond the Championship in England.
With the absence of Rangers the perception of the SPL has decreased further. Some unflattering views are held and there is no doubt the competition can be substandard. However, that is through no fault of Hooper. He is paid to score and has more than fulfilled his terms of employment.
He would be a gamble for AVB, but, so is every other transfer.