4 short and strange Celtic spells

By Euan Davidson

April 22, 2021

After the departure of Patryk Klimala was announced by Celtic today, it got us at 67 Hail Hail wondering.

Have we ever seen a player come in, get so few chances, then leave to minimal fanfare? Why, yes. Yes we have. Over the years, just like any big club, we’ve taken gambles in the transfer market that haven’t worked out. Rather than keeping them for a couple of years, maybe even loaning them out, we’ve instead punted some big names after very muted spells.

Now, there are some obvious names here. Plenty of players have come in for only a brief time at Celtic, and that’s not what we’re looking at specifically. So, Craig Bellamy, Roy Keane and Robbie Keane don’t count here. They were good. Equally, players we’ve loaned who looked decent but never came back are disqualified.

We’re looking at the downright strange; the transfers that came out of nowhere, were met with confusion, and came to absolutely nothing. At least Polish Paddy gave us a few goals and a cashed-in gift receipt.

These guys, though? Not so much. Let’s take a deep dive into the recent past.

Du Wei: “Aye, just 45 minutes.” / (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

Du Wei: 71 caps for China, 45 minutes for Celtic

Given Celtic’s exploits in the Asian market, there was reason to be excited about an experienced China international signing for the club. Fine, given its population, the nation isn’t the footballing powerhouse you might expect, but some more than capable players have emerged.

Du Wei, a former Asian Young Footballer of the Year [People’s Daily], had impressed in the Chinese Super League, and it looked a shrewd bit of business by Gordon Strachan. Making his debut alongside Roy Keane, however, it proved to be anything but.

The unlucky centre-back was given just 45 minutes before WGS gave up on him. Dragged off at half-time, in a famous defeat in Celtic history, Du Wei is an unfortunate victim of a bizarre game of football [BBC].

Poor guy.

Honourable mention 1: Zheng Zhi (16 appearances, 1 goal) – turfed out after just one season.

Danny Fox: a bizarre debacle / (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

Danny Fox: earns Scotland cap, makes Celtic £300k

Left-back Danny Fox looked like a pretty decent signing, and in the end, he’s had a relatively impressive career. The former Scotland international, who loved a set-piece delivery, joined in July 2009, making 15 league appearances. He provided assists, made bombing forward runs, and looked like a good long-term option on the left.

Except, no: Fox left in January 2010, signing for Burnley in the Premier League [BBC]. Departing for only around £300,000 more than we’d bought him for, it was a spell that left Celtic fans more confused than anything else. We’d seen a guy come in and play well in a draw against Rangers, and Tony Mowbray seemed keen on the left-back. So… why?

Apparently the board were to blame for this one. At least, that’s what Fox said after moving in 2010 [Daily Record]. Perhaps the wheels of “buy low, sell a fraction higher” were in motion well before the current day. Who knows, honestly?

Just weird.

Honourable mention 2: Viktor Noring (0 appearances), a goalkeeper seemingly brought in for a laugh in 2013.

Freddie Ljungberg playing for Celtic in a fantastic away kit back in 2011 / (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Freddie Ljungberg: less invincible in Green and White

Underwear model and professional footballer Freddie Ljungberg is a bona fide Arsenal legend. Part of the Invincibles season, the Swedish midfielder was a creative dynamo, coming up with goals and assists for fun. In his prime, next to the likes of Robert Pires and Thierry Henry, Ljungberg was an electric player who sold tickets on his own.

At Celtic, not the case.

Celtic have had a mixed record signing Swedish players, but Ljungberg has to have been our least effective of those who actually got first-team minutes. Neil Lennon was impressed by his debut in 2011, in a Scottish Cup win against Berwick [BBC]. Unfortunately, that was pretty much as good as it got.

The Arsenal star was, probably by his own admission, past it by the time he reached Celtic. He signed for Shimizu S-Pulse in September 2011, after a winter arrival at Paradise.

We’re sure he’s a very nice man.

Honourable mention 3: Carlton Cole (5 appearances, 1 goal) – incredibly likeable English striker, but a very odd signing at that point in his career.

Charly Musonda: undoubtedly talented / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Charly Musonda: the 18-month loan that looked an absolute coup

Chelsea youth talent Charly Musonda looked like an absolute steal for Celtic. Initially signed on an 18-month loan, there was considerable hype about the young winger.

Two dazzling feet and supposedly considerable end product, Musonda seemed like a Dembélé-esque bit of business from Brendan Rodgers for the 17-18 season. Unfortunately, it was anything but.

Barring a fantastic bit of skill in a massive game against Zenit St Petersburg, the Belgian just couldn’t get a run of games under Rodgers. In fact, he only made 6 appearances for Celtic, with rumours spreading about a bad attitude in training, and an “entourage” following him around, to his hinderance.

Ultimately, Musonda’s loan deal was cut short to just six months, and injuries have hampered him ever since. In 2019, he told the Independent:

“It’s something you have to get over and try to not let it change you, but it was a very sad moment.

“It’s not like in six months I became a bad player. But when you’re a player who expresses yourself and has that bit of arrogance, criticism goes hand in hand.

“People say things like ‘he’s unprofessional’ but that’s football, people are always going to talk. It’s up to me to make things happen.”

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