Not sure if you’ve noticed, but it’s been Eddie Howe week in the Celtic media.
Since news broke that the ex-Bournemouth man was potentially on his way, we’ve been into it, and supporters have been into it. Media reports have suggested Howe may already have names he wants to bring in with him. It’s all dead exciting, we’re sure you agree.
One mark against Howe, though, is some of his signings. For example, spending £16m on Jordon Ibe [BBC]. He’s coming good in the Championship, but £19m for Dominic Solanke seemed very steep at the time [Transfermarkt]. There was probably a few years, there, when the bean-counters at Liverpool were only accepting emails from Bournemouth.
Dig into Howe’s current situation a bit, though, and some interesting themes emerge. The potential Celtic boss is signed to agency firm Wasserman, who represent some of the biggest names in sport, full stop. In football alone, John Stones, Aymeric Laporte and Jamie Vardy are all Wasserman clients.
We’re not suggesting for even a second that Howe will be on the phone to Manchester City for one of their star centre-backs. However, it’s not uncommon for Celtic to establish relationships with certain agents. Dudu Dahan is perhaps the most obvious example.
We took a look at some of Wasserman’s clients on the more realistic end of the scale.
Ryan Fraser: a return to Scotland under Eddie Howe?
We all remember Ryan Fraser from his time at Aberdeen, but he’s moved on leaps and bounds since then. Fraser, who scored for Scotland the other night [Guardian], played 208 games for Bournemouth, rising up the leagues with Howe [Transfermarkt].
Now at underperforming Newcastle United, Fraser is probably prohibitively expensive to sign outright. The 27-year-old might’ve joined the Magpies on a free deal, but his wages are on the hefty end of what Celtic could realistically afford.
However, a loan move might not be out of the question. Fraser, unerringly prolific as a provider for the Cherries, hasn’t hit the heights expected of him in the North East of England. He’s only managed 3 assists over 22 outings for Newcastle United.
Still well under 30, Newcastle might feel he needs a season away from the club to sharpen up. A return to Scotland with Eddie Howe would be just the ticket.
Marley Aké: a Juve youngster with bags of potential
He’s no relation to ex-Bournemouth centre-back Nathan Aké, so let’s just be clear on that one, first.
But Aké, another Wasserman client, is developing well for Juventus. An attacking player who can be used anywhere in a front-three, the Frenchman has made 9 Serie C – A appearances for Juve’s U23 squad, after joining from Marseille in January of this year.
Aké, who made 4 Champions League appearances with Marseille this season, signed a 5-year deal with the Old Lady [Goal]. So far, he’s shown off his attacking abilities, scoring once and laying on 4 assists for a Juventus development side [Transfermarkt].
He’s a star of the future, sure. He’s unlikely, though, to break into Juventus’ first-team particularly soon. So, again, a loan move might be a fantastic option to improve both club and player.
Celtic’s wing depth is non-existent, with Mikey Johnston struggling for fitness this season, Elyounoussi unlikely to be here beyond his loan deal, and James Forrest recovering from his own injury issues. Looking at Howe’s selection and formational decisions at Bournemouth, he’ll likely need a selection of wingers.
A temporary deal for Aké, with the wheels greased by a shared agency, is not beyond the realms of possibility.
Rekeem Harper: previous Celtic target, would Howe be keen?
If you’re a regular on these pages, the name Rekeem Harper will be familiar. The WBA midfielder is currently on loan with Birmingham City, with chances at West Brom coming in short supply.
Neil Lennon went to watch the now-21-year-old back in 2019 [Daily Record], who was also being monitored by Tottenham Hotspur and Norwich City at time. In the last year or so, though, Harper has only garnered limited playing time and seems out of favour at the Hawthorns.
He is, though, signed to the same agency as Eddie Howe. With Celtic to revamp their squad, major midfield surgery is needed. Scott Brown will leave, with Nir Bitton and Tom Rogic facing uncertain futures at the club. A deep-lying playmaker of sorts, Harper could certainly contribute with driving runs and chance creation from the middle of the park.
His passing averages are decent, at around 80% [WhoScored?]. Considering Harper likes to mix up his kinds of passes, he provides different options for a midfield. He would set us back a few million, granted, but he might have excellent resale value from playing in Europe and competing for trophies.