Are Celtic trying out a new transfer strategy?

By Hamish Carton

July 29, 2019

Celtic announced the signing of Norwegian 16-year-old Leo Hjelde on Monday afternoon.

The defender became the second teenager to join the club in as many days, following the earlier capture of keeper Tobi Oluwayemi from Tottenham Hotspur.

Hjelde was pictured holding a Celtic shirt on the club’s official Instagram.

The official Celtic website had some quotes from the 16-year-old after he clinched the deal.

“It is a real honour to join Celtic, I had a number of options in front of me, but I know that Celtic is the right place for me.

"Carl Starfelt to Celtic is a big possibility" | Swedish journalist Anel Avdić

“I have had the opportunity to speak to many people within the club, including the manager, Neil Lennon, and that has been fantastic.”

Interestingly, the club said the following about both Hjelde and Oluwayemi: “Initially, the plan is for Leo/Tobi to join the Reserve team squad, with a view to working towards the first-team.”

It appears Celtic are planning for the future right now.

(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Hjelde signing is not uncommon for Celtic

Celtic announcing the signing of these exciting youngsters isn’t a new thing but it does seem as if the deals are more public these days.

In 2007, the club signed exciting young Italian Luca Santonocito from Inter Milan. The midfielder, who’s now 28, never made the breakthrough but his signing signalled an interesting intent.

The more recent capture of Armstrong Oko-Flex showed a similar plan to bring in top talent, whatever the age.

Given that we struggle to compete in the English transfer market, it makes sense to get those talented ones in before they have a heavily inflated fee.

(Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

There’s not a great deal of risk in signing the likes of Hjelde. He won’t have cost much at all, probably a nominal fee, and he’ll be on modest wages. If he turns out to be a superstar then great. But if not, it’s hardly a great loss to the club.

What’s more interesting to consider is what the club are promising these youngsters. It can’t be easy to tempt away a talented keeper like Oluwayemi who has been capped by England at every youth level so far. So what are the club offering?

They obvious answer is game time. Unlike down south, Celtic are able to blood youngsters if they’re good enough. We can point to the examples of Callum McGregor and Kieran Tierney who have matured from youth team to first-team players.

That’s the big draw we can still offer players. It now appears as if the club are cashing in on it.