Celtic could sign-up three of their reported summer targets for nothing in January

By David Walton

November 12, 2020

As we look ahead to the winter window, there has to be an acknowledgment that Celtic spent plenty in the summer.

Indeed, Neil Lennon was well backed despite not managing to secure Champions League finances for the second season running. In addition to that, Celtic dug their heels in and refused to sell their top stars.

Vasilis Barkas – £4.5m (Scottish Sun), Albian Ajeti £5m (Sky Sports), David Turnbull – £3m (Daily Record), Shane Duffy – £2m (Scottish Sun). The manager has been backed, but the club’s forward planning can’t stop – there must be a vision to what happens beyond 10-in-a-row.

So, taking all of that into account, here are three reported Celtic summer targets that the club could sign on a pre-contract for absolutely nothing in January:

1. Ben Davies

Preston North End’s Celtic-linked Ben Davies (Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images)

Preston centre-back Ben Davies was linked with Celtic back in September, with the Sun reporting that the Hoops were likely to snap the Englishman up on a pre-contract in the new year (The Sun).

His manager, Alex Neil, has been absolutely itching to get him tied down on a new contract (Lancs Live). Yet despite his calls to tie down his centre-back, Davies hasn’t committed. Instead, there doesn’t appear to have been much progress, and Davies remains free to chat in the new year.

Celtic have been struggling all season at centre-back, and Davies has attributes that would almost certainly be attractive to Neil Lennon. He’s good on the ball, dominant in the air, positionally sound, and evidently a grafter. Working his way up from the National League right up to the English Championship, he has an impressive record.

Shane Duffy’s struggles are a warning sign that not everyone who impresses in England can make it in Glasgow, but if Celtic are wanting to go cheap, he’s one to keep looking at.

A pre-contract in January would perhaps be a sound move given how our defence may look in the summer.

2. Bright Osayi-Samuel

Bright Osayi-Samuel in action for QPR / (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

The difference between QPR’s Bright Osayi-Samuel and Preston’s Davies is that Celtic reportedly wanted the former in over the summer as opposed to next year. The Hoops were linked with a cut-price move for the winger, who is also out of contract at the end of the season (Scottish Sun).

Since then, there’s been plenty of speculation over the Nigerian’s future. One day he’s signing a new contract and the next talks have stalled. Where things are at the moment is the exact same as they were in the summer. Osayi-Samuel still hasn’t signed on, and Celtic’s need for a winger is high.

What’s attractive about Osayi-Samuel is that he’s experienced on either flank. Considering Celtic could do with summer or January additions down either side, Osayi-Samuel could cover on either side when the situation demands it. That kind of versatility would be ideal for Lennon next season.

As things stand, Celtic don’t currently have a natural right-winger available thanks to injuries to James Forrest and Jeremie Frimpong. Down the other side, only Mohamed Elyounoussi is fit and he’s not even owned by the club.

He also fits into Celtic’s profile for new signings. At 22 years of age, the Hoops would have the chance to develop him for a few years before selling on for a big fee. It’s a model the club have reaped rewards from in recent years, and Osayi-Samuel could prove to be another wise investment.

3. Christian Atsu

Reported Celtic target Christian Atsu
/ (Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images)

Atsu is a bit different from the rest. Sports World Ghana reported over the summer that Celtic enquired about bringing the right-winger to Parkhead. 

However, where he differs is that his club actively want rid of him. Newcastle boss Steve Bruce has already said that he wants to sort his future out in January when he named his Premier League squad which Atsu didn’t make.

Like Osayi-Samuel, Atsu can operate efficiently down both flanks and could help bolster our options whilst being more suited to the left-wing role. He has experience in top-flight leagues around Europe including in England, Spain, Holland, and Portugal respectively. As well as that, he boasts 60 international caps to his name (Transfermarkt).

Yes there’s a bit of a recovery job to do on Atsu should we take him given he’s barely played over the last 12 months, but he’s another who represents absolutely no risk. Celtic can get him for free ahead of next season or for next to nothing in January. Newcastle will likely just want him off the wage bill, so it’s a potential avenue for the Hoops if they’re interested.

If Celtic held a genuine interest in any of the three players mentioned here – they could have the opportunity to tie them all up without spending a penny on transfer fees come the new year.