Celtic loan business shows that change of approach is sorely needed

By Euan Davidson

March 11, 2021

Are Celtic loanees bothered about how the season has gone?

There are pundits, like Frank McAvennie, who think they aren’t. Certainly, Celtic have an inordinate amount of temporary players on their books. For what was meant to be a historic season, Neil Lennon was forced to make short-term decisions across the park.

Signing Mohamed Elyounoussi, even at a cut-price, isn’t a popular idea. Despite his overall contribution for Celtic, few in the Celtic support seem to be desperate for the Norwegian to stay long-term. Ditto Diego Laxalt, who made a decent start to life in Glasgow. He’s since been usurped by Greg Taylor, and isn’t an automatic pick.

Elsewhere, Shane Duffy’s tenure at the club has been marred by off-field abuse, and on-field calamities. His signing, in hindsight, never seemed right. Under Graham Potter at Brighton, he didn’t fit into a ball-carrying, high-press defence. With the Bhoys attempting something similar, the Irishman was an odd fit from the off.

Jonjoe Kenny has impressed at times since joining in the January window. Former Celtic defender Alan Stubbs reckons the club should sign him permanently, but responses we’ve had from supporters suggest that he isn’t entirely beloved either. A solid, if unspectacular addition, he’s filled a very clear need. But he’s not blown anyone away just yet.

With loan signings, it’s low-risk and potentially high-reward in theory. However, if your first-team is filled with them, it can disrupt continuity season-to-season.

Diego Laxalt / (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

It speaks volumes that none of 4 Celtic loanees are likely to stay

While outlets in Italy like Calcio Mercato have claimed that Celtic like the cut of Diego Laxalt’s jib, he’s unlikely to move permanently. For one thing, he’d be an expensive back-up option. Especially considering he’s the wrong side of 20, and Celtic are facing a crucial summer rebuild.

Laxalt is a good example of how things have gone. In the past, when we’ve loaned in Odsonne Edouard, Patrick Roberts et al, there’s been a clear progression plan. They were brought in with an eye to permanent moves. Each of those names was an affordable potential asset.

That’s not the case with the business Celtic have done in the loan market this year. Kenny aside, each of Elyounoussi, Laxalt and Duffy are nearer 30 than they are an academy. There doesn’t seem to have been any long-term plan, there. With Celtic’s previous model of buying low and selling high, none of these names fit that profile.

If Celtic are to use the loan system, it really should be with an eye on developing talent and hoping to secure players for the future. The future wasn’t in mind; in hindsight, these signings seem like quite desperate moves to cover for key areas in our team. Areas where, for whatever reason, we couldn’t get a permanent signing through the door.

The loan system can be useful. We’ve benefitted multiple times.

But the Celtic board either need to change tack or be more shrewd. You can’t plan for the future with temporary options. It just doesn’t work.

Sadly, we’ve seen that this season.

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