Noel Whelan claims it would be “a big blow” to Celtic if they cannot sign Mohamed Elyounoussi permanently next summer.

However, the former Aberdeen and Leeds United striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider correspondent Dylan Childs, tipped the scouting department at Lennoxtown to find a “fitting replacement” if such an eventuality.

The Athletic claim the 26-year-old will be given a shot to impress Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl when he returns to his parent club next summer.

Elyounoussi is spending his second successive season on loan at Parkhead, his 12 appearances in all competitions in the 2020/21 campaign yielding four goals and three assists.

He has three years remaining on his contract at Southampton, having arrived in a £16million deal from FC Basel in July 2018.

When asked by Football Insider if he thinks Celtic would want to sign Elyounoussi permanently next summer, Whelan said:

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“It would be a big blow not to have the option of signing him permanently but it give them a full season to try and find a replacement.

“He is not going back in January because that would leave them in the lurch.

“It does gives them time to put a bid in that could be tempting for Southampton though. There is lots of ways to look at this one.

“What is important is that he does his job for Celtic and he is doing it. They will cross that bridge when they come to it.

“The scouting network have plenty of time to find a fitting replacement.”

In other Celtic news, it can be REVEALED that West Ham have made a move to blow Hoops out of water for £10m-valued ace.