Neil Lennon has resigned as Celtic manager with bitter rivals Rangers closing in on the Scottish Premiership title.

The Hoops are 18 points adrift of Steven Gerrard's side after Sunday's 1-0 loss at Ross County, leaving their hopes of a 10th consecutive championship in tatters.

Celtic confirmed on Wednesday that Lennon, who won the league twice after returning in May 2019, has brought his second spell at the helm to an end.

"We have experienced a difficult season due to so many factors and, of course, it is very frustrating and disappointing that we have not been able to hit the same heights as we did previously," the 49-year-old told the club's official website.

"I have worked as hard as ever to try and turn things around, but unfortunately we have not managed to get the kind of run going that we have needed.

"I have always given my best to the club and have been proud to deliver silverware to the Celtic supporters."

Lennon's return to Celtic also yielded two Scottish Cups and a League Cup, having won the former twice in his first stint, along with three league titles.

Assistant manager John Kennedy will take interim charge of the team, with Celtic hosting Aberdeen on Saturday.

Real Madrid are reportedly planning a €90million move for Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland ahead of next season.

Haaland, 20, is being targeted by Europe's biggest clubs after starring for the Bundesliga outfit.

Madrid are ready to make a move for Haaland ahead of 2021-22.

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID PLAN €90M HAALAND MOVE

Real Madrid are plotting a €90m move for Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland, according to ABC.

The report says the LaLiga giants will attempt to get Luka Jovic, who is on loan at Eintracht Frankfurt, or Mariano Diaz to be part of the deal.

Haaland has scored 23 goals in as many games for Dortmund this season.

ROUND-UP

- After landing Dayot Upamecano, Bayern Munich have other targets in mind. Bild reports the Bundesliga giants are also interested in Norwich City full-back Max Aarons, Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Florian Neuhaus, Rennes' Eduardo Camavinga and Lucien Agoume, who is on loan at Spezia from Inter. The Daily Mail also says Bayern are stepping up their pursuit of Aarons.

- David Luiz looks set to extend his Arsenal stay. The Independent claims the Premier League side are set to offer the defender another extension, with his deal expiring at season's end.

- Staying at Arsenal and Alexandre Lacazette's future at the club seems uncertain. The Daily Express reports Arsenal have been told they can sign Celtic striker Odsonne Edouard for just £15m.

- Without a club since leaving Trabzonspor in March last year, Daniel Sturridge has been offered to Newcastle United, according to 90min. West Brom and Sheffield United are also reportedly interested in Sturridge.

Andre Villas-Boas has been suspended by Marseille after the club accused the head coach of remarks that "seriously harmed" their reputation.

On Tuesday, the former Chelsea and Tottenham boss claimed he had offered to resign due to his frustrations with the running of the club, which came to a head with the signing of Olivier Ntcham, a player he did not ask to be brought in.

"I submitted my resignation saying that I did not agree with the sporting policy. I don't want anything from OM. I don't want money," he told a news conference.

"I'm waiting for an answer, it could be no and then we would continue. I don't want any money, I just want to leave."

Villas-Boas said he learned of the deal to sign midfielder Ntcham from Celtic "this morning from the press", adding: "He is a player that I had said no to. He was not on our list."

Those comments appear to have incensed Marseille bosses, who are now pursuing disciplinary action, which is likely to lead to Villas-Boas' dismissal. The Portuguese had previously stated he would not extend his contract, which expires at the end of the season.

"Olympique de Marseille announces the pending disciplinary proceedings of Andre Villas-Boas," the club said in a statement. "This decision has become unavoidable given the recent and repetitive actions and attitudes that have seriously harmed Olympique de Marseille and its employees who devote themselves to it on a daily basis.

"The remarks made today during a press conference in regard to Pablo Longoria, general manager in charge of football, are unacceptable.

"His exceptional achievements should not be questioned and, on the contrary, were welcomed by all during this winter transfer window which was affected by an unprecedented crisis. Possible sanctions may be taken against Andre Villas-Boas following disciplinary proceedings."

Marseille, who are ninth in Ligue 1, have won just one of their past eight top-flight matches and lost each of their previous three, a run that prompted angry fans to stage an attack on the training ground last weekend in protest against the club's running.

They were also knocked out of the Champions League group stage with just three points from their six games.

Villas-Boas had previously stated he would prepare the team for Wednesday's trip to Lens.

Andre Villas-Boas has offered his resignation at Marseille after the Ligue 1 club went against his wishes by signing Olivier Ntcham. 

Ntcham joined on loan until the end of the season from Celtic on deadline day despite Villas-Boas saying he did not want the player. 

The former Tottenham and Chelsea boss consequently felt his position was no longer tenable and offered to leave, citing a disagreement with Marseille’s sporting policy. 

Villas-Boas said the training ground being attacked by angry fans at the weekend "had nothing to do with it" and that he was awaiting a response from the club. 

"I submitted my resignation saying that I did not agree with the sporting policy. I don't want anything from OM. I don't want money," he told a news conference on Tuesday. 

"I'm waiting for an answer, it could be no and then we would continue. I don't want any money, I just want to leave. 

"[Signing Ntcham was] a decision that was not taken by me, I learned of it this morning from the press. He is a player that I had said no to. He was not on our list. 

"The results – it's my fault. I'm very upset. But if there's something you cannot touch, it's my professionalism. I cannot accept this. This club has already been through a couple of messy years in terms of transfers."

Marseille have won just one of their past eight Ligue 1 matches, with a 3-1 loss at Monaco last time out their third straight defeat. 

Their meeting with Rennes on Saturday was called off after fans stormed the training ground in protest. 

Villas-Boas accepted the club's request for time before making a decision on his resignation and he was still preparing the team for Wednesday's trip to Lens. 

"I'm focused on Lens. We continue until the board lets me go," he added. 

Liverpool's need for defensive reinforcements was always likely to dominate the headlines on transfer deadline day and so it proved as the Premier League champions made two late signings.

Centre-back Ben Davies arrived from Preston North End, while Liverpool made a further addition to the heart of their backline with the loan signing of Ozan Kabak from Bundesliga strugglers Schalke until the end of the season.

Those signings came on a day that saw Joel Matip ruled out for the rest of the season with an ankle ligament injury. Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez are long-term absentees and Liverpool were forced to play Jordan Henderson and Nathaniel Phillips at centre-back in Sunday's win at West Ham.

Heading for the Anfield exit door is Takumi Minamino, the forward moving to Southampton on a six-month loan deal having only joined Liverpool last January.

It came after Southampton loaned veteran Shane Long to promotion-chasing Championship side Bournemouth.

Bournemouth also sanctioned the departure of Joshua King to Everton for a nominal fee until the end of the season.

There were outgoings at Arsenal as well, with Shkodran Mustafi signing for Schalke on a short-term deal and Joe Willock going on loan to Newcastle United, who let DeAndre Yedlin leave for Galatasaray.

Arsenal also sent Ainsley Maitland-Niles to West Brom on loan.

Turkish giants Galatasaray acquired Gedson Fernandes on a temporary deal from Benfica following an unsuccessful stint at Tottenham.

In Serie A, Parma landed Bayern Munich's teenage forward Joshua Zirkzee in a loan deal that contains the option to sign the 19-year-old permanently.

Atalanta are firmly in contention for a top-four finish in Serie A and bolstered their ranks for that push with the capture of Ukraine midfielder Viktor Kovalenko from Shakhtar Donetsk.

Roma can afford to have hopes of a title challenge and brought in teenage full-back Bryan Reynolds from MLS outfit Dallas on an initial loan deal, with an obligation to buy, to help them.

Frozen out at Juventus, midfielder Sami Khedira is back in the Bundesliga following a switch to Hertha Berlin, but one of European football's most exciting talents is heading to Italy after Udinese signed Jayden Braaf on loan from Manchester City with an option to buy.

Elsewhere, Everton defender Jonjoe Kenny joined Celtic on loan for the rest of the season, Brighton and Hove Albion signed highly rated midfielder Moises Caicedo from Independiente del Valle, West Brom loaned Okay Yokuslu from Celta Vigo and defender Teden Mengi moved from Manchester United to Wayne Rooney's Derby County on a temporary basis.

Celtic confirmed on Monday that manager Neil Lennon and 13 senior players are self-isolating, but the club are still defending the decision to hold a training camp in Dubai.

Defender Christopher Jullien tested positive for COVID-19 after the team returned to Scotland ahead of Monday's Premiership clash with Hibernian.

Although all other squad and staff members returned negative tests, Lennon, assistant John Kennedy and 13 first-team players are self-isolating after being deemed close contacts.

The reigning champions remain insistent they followed "rigorous" COVID-secure protocols and that the threat of contracting the virus would have been similarly high had they stayed in Scotland.

In a statement, Celtic said: "Clearly we are hugely disappointed, as we know our supporters will be. The contacts were identified during the period from Wednesday last week, primarily around flight and team coach travel, during which time Celtic applied the same rigorous protocols used for pre-season training camps, UEFA match travel and for all domestic match arrangements in Scotland.    

"These protocols have served us well in the past, as the club has not had one positive case in our own 'bubble' until now. As we have already stated, Celtic's decision to travel to Dubai for a training camp was for performance reasons. Whilst we were in Dubai, the announcements made on January 4 significantly changed the COVID landscape.  

"The reality is that a case could well have occurred had the team remained in Scotland, as other cases have done in Scottish football and across UK sport in the past week.
 
"Celtic has done everything it can to ensure we have in place the very best procedures and protocols. From the outset of the pandemic, Celtic has worked closely with the Scottish Government and Scottish football and we will continue to do so."

Steven Gerrard felt Rangers had made a statement with their 1-0 win over rivals Celtic, but insisted they were not looking at their 19-point lead atop the Scottish Premiership. 

Rangers took a huge step towards winning the league, an achievement which would deny Celtic 10 in a row, with a narrow triumph at Ibrox on Saturday. 

Callum McGregor's second-half own goal, shortly after Nir Bitton had been sent off for a foul on Alfredo Morelos, meant Gerrard's men triumphed despite not registering a shot on target. 

They also won 2-0 at Celtic Park in October and have won three straight derbies dating back to last season, their best run since 2008 when Walter Smith was in charge. 

While 19 points is a formidable advantage, Gerrard is not taking anything for granted, with Celtic holding three games in hand. 

"We don't look at the 19-point lead, we look at our next game against Aberdeen," Gerrard said to Sky Sports. 

"There are three points available there and 48 still to play for, so still a lot of challenges, a lot of obstacles to get over. We don't look at leads and our season starts now. 

"But today was big in terms of making a statement and proving we can win our second derby out of two."

Celtic were on top until Bitton saw red, with Rangers goalkeeper Allan McGregor making three important first-half saves, most notably tipping a 25-yard Leigh Griffiths strike onto the post. 

Asked about McGregor's performance, Gerrard said: "Wow - outstanding. He is a world-class goalkeeper. 

"Good decision [making him man of the match]. The couple of saves he made kept us in the match. He is outstanding, reliable and trustworthy.  

"I knew already but I now know even more why he has been so successful at this club because he has bailed us out again." 

Former Liverpool captain Gerrard was not overly worried by Rangers' performance, adding: "First half we were not good enough, we were not ourselves and second best in a lot of areas. 

"There was a massive improvement in the second half, then obviously the sending off is a big, major incident in the game and it looked like only one team would win it from there. 

"Credit to Celtic - they played really well in the first half, but we were outstanding in the cup final for 90 minutes not too long ago and got nothing for it. It is about the end result. 

"You are not always going to be pretty on the eye and able to show your style. It is about the outcome. It was all about the three points, especially at this stage of the season. 

"It is another big three points and another clean sheet, so really proud of the team in terms of their efforts. We stretch our lead, remain humble and move on to Aberdeen."

Rangers took a huge step towards winning the Scottish Premiership title as Callum McGregor's own goal gave them a 1-0 Old Firm derby win over Celtic.

Steven Gerrard's unbeaten team now lead their fierce rivals by a formidable 19 points at the top of the table.

Celtic still have three games in hand but their hopes of clinching a historic 10th straight title look increasingly slim, with this result piling the pressure on manager Neil Lennon.

Champions Celtic had the better of Saturday's match at Ibrox, but the tables were turned when Nir Bitton was sent off after 62 minutes.

Callum McGregor then inadvertently gave Rangers, who did not register a shot on target in the contest, a priceless winning goal.

Celtic made an excellent start and it took two pivotal saves from goalkeeper Allan McGregor to stop the visitors from going into an early lead.

He impressively got down low to deny Odsonne Edouard, who had not played in the last meeting between the sides, which Rangers won 2-0 in October.

The Rangers keeper then produced an even better fingertip stop to tip a 25-yard shot from Leigh Griffiths that was destined to find the top corner onto the post.

Gerrard brought on Ianis Hagi – who had been dropped from the starting XI in place of Ryan Kent – at half-time, with Kemar Roofe coming off and his side gradually began to improve.

Rangers got a big boost when Bitton was dismissed after wrestling Alfredo Morelos to the ground as the striker attempted to race on to a James Tavernier pass and looked like he had a clear path to goal.

They moved in front after 70 minutes, Joe Aribo flicking a Tavernier onto Callum McGregor, whose arm deflected the ball beyond Vasilios Barkas.

Celtic substitute Mohamed Elyounoussi shot just over but there was no way back for the 10 men, who have now lost three straight league derbies for the first time since 2008.

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