Vakoun Bayo’s departure from Celtic this month looks inevitable, but the Hoops should hold the bus before they allow him to leave permanently just yet.
Interest in the Ivorian front-man appears to be hotting up. St Mirren were initially linked with a loan move for him over the weekend. That was something manager Neil Lennon said he was open to despite not knowing anything about their interest (Daily Record).
However, a report from Toulouse-based newspaper La Depeche has stated that Ligue 2 outfit Toulouse are close to an agreement with Celtic to sign him permanently.
A figure of €500k (£450k) was mentioned in the French report. That would mean that Celtic would be making a loss of over £1.5m on the former Dunajska Streda man. The Hoops originally signed him from Slovakia in a £2m deal in January 2018 (Glasgow Times).
But Celtic should hold off from cutting their losses just yet. It’s not as if Bayo has been given his opportunities and shown absolutely nothing.
Bayo’s goal record isn’t as poor as you might think
Some will look at Bayo’s record of one goal in 16 appearances last season and feel it’s enough to send him out the exit door (Transfermarkt). But that doesn’t tell the full story. In 11 of those appearances, he was given less than 20 minutes to impress.
In the matches he started – two of them – he contributed to four goals. He scored and assisted in the Betfred Cup against Partick Thistle back in September. That was after he played a key role in two goals against Hearts, where only touches off defenders cost him from getting a brace.
When he’s been given a decent shot at it, Bayo has shown he has something. He’s strong, wins plenty of aerial duels, and clearly has more of an eye for goal than his stats suggest at face value.
One argument for letting him go would be that he obviously hasn’t shown much in training. Fine, nobody can confirm what he’s been up to on the training pitch outside of the management team. But he’s never exactly going to get a game ahead of Odsonne Edouard, is he? With the form Leigh Griffiths was in too, it was always going to be tough to shrug him off.
Injuries have also cost Bayo dearly, and Lennon clearly saw enough of him in training to know that he could be called upon from the bench on over 10 different occasions.
Therefore, it would be worth giving the striker a shot elsewhere temporarily. Let’s see how he gets on over the course of a full season as someone’s number one striker. Remember, Bayo is only 23. It’s not like he’s 26 and is now at a stage where he can’t improve. A good year elsewhere could see a more confident player return and ready to hit the ground running next season.
Letting him go permanently at the moment just feels a tad hasty.