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McDermott fires back after Blues' capture of Nasseri as Big Two rivals load up squads for new season



Navid Nasseri was one of four signings announced by Linfield on Saturday

Navid Nasseri was one of four signings announced by Linfield on Saturday


Navid Nasseri was one of four signings announced by Linfield on Saturday

Linfield stole rivals Glentoran's thunder yesterday with the stunning capture of star man Navid Nasseri - less than 14 hours after he helped Mick McDermott's side win the Irish Cup at Windsor Park.

Bullish McDermott, though, hit back: "What we are doing at Glentoran is about the collective and not individuals and Navid leaving will not have an impact on our project. We have won the Irish Cup and our next target will be to win the title."

On an extraordinary day for Belfast's Big Two, the Blues announced four new signings as Nasseri and Conor Pepper moved across the city from The Oval, with ex-Motherwell striker Christy Manzinga and Coleraine goalkeeper Chris Johns joining them.

Meanwhile, the Glens hit back with three arrivals in Northern Ireland defender Luke McCullough, Derry City winger Jamie McDonagh and Institute keeper Rory Brown.

The most eye-catching deal of all is Nasseri's which has delighted Linfield boss David Healy, while in the eyes of Glentoran fans the winger has gone from Cup Final hero to villain for agreeing a two-year deal with the Premiership champions the morning after lifting silverware with the Glens.

McDermott told Sunday Life Sport: "We have a strong squad and have already made exciting signings. I can tell our fans there will be more to come."

It is understood Nasseri agreed his move to Linfield in advance of Friday's game, with McDermott adding: "Navid is a top professional and a great lad. We were prepared to keep him but you reach the point when what a player wants is well beyond what is reasonable and is out of sync with what our best players are on, so you move on.

"We are only interested in players who want to be here and want to commit to our project and we continue to build our club around players who are committed to our long-term plan."

With Joel Cooper joining Oxford United, Healy was determined to land another classy wing man and is overjoyed to recruit ex-Gillingham player Nasseri.

"He's a player we've watched closely when he's played against us and he's an exciting talent," said Healy.

"He's a flair player with a lot of pace who can play in several forward positions. He's got an eye for goal and he will provide added quality in the final third of the pitch and I know the news of his arrival will be warmly welcomed by our supporters."

As expected, versatile Pepper and Bannsiders ace Johns have agreed two-year deals, with the latter starting yesterday as the Blues won 1-0 in Dundalk thanks to a Shayne Lavery goal in a behind-closed-doors game.

Frenchman Manzinga has signed the same length of contract after being released by Motherwell, with the 25-year-old former Paris Saint-Germain striker having been recommended to Healy by Fir Park boss Stephen Robinson.

Healy said: "He's a player who we've tracked for quite a while and he looked really impressive when he joined us for training on Thursday night."

Belfast Telegraph