The Celtic transfer model has been criticised from all angles in recent months.
The club’s search for a Director of Football is an illustration of that. Celtic’s board recognise that the sticking plasters on broken legs routine simply doesn’t work. “Buy cheap, pay twice”, they say, and in some cases, Celtic have borrowed rather than bought.
Loans are a very normal part of modern football, of course. For academy players, they’re a great way to develop. The likes of Callum McGregor can attest to that, having spent a season at Notts County. A team of Celtic’s stature, however, are quite unique in their incoming loan business, though. This season must be the end of the road for that particular method.
Last night, news emerged that Diego Laxalt was being tipped for a permanent Celtic move. Calcio Mercato reported that A.C. Milan were looking for €9m for the Uruguayan. That seems incredibly steep, given the left-winger’s emphatic lack of production since joining the club temporarily.
Shane Duffy’s loan spell at Celtic hasn’t exactly worked out either. You’ve got to feel sorry for the Derry man, who was only attempting to fulfil his father’s dream by playing for his bhoyhood club. Sadly, Duffy’s performances have been awful, used in a system that doesn’t benefit from his old-fashioned defensive approach.
Moi Elyounoussi has been the stand-out of the loanees. But even he hasn’t escaped criticism this term. It’s a little harsh, given the injuries he’s had, and his 11 league goal involvements in 20-21 [Transfermarkt]. Still, you’re unlikely to hear the clamour of Celtic supporters wanting him permanently.
So, the Celtic transfer model needs looking at.
Celtic transfer model needs to change under new regime
The penny-pinching has to stop. Even in the Covid Era, as we’re now forced to call it, Celtic’s hierarchy are loathe to part with cash. They’ve been some baffling decisions, including furloughing the academy players, and refusing to allow Pay per View coverage for matches.
There seems to have been a desperation about Celtic transfer business in recent seasons, not least with the use of loans. In the past, we’d been able to bring in some quality players temporarily; Robbie Keane, Craig Bellamy, Fraser Forster, Patrick Roberts. These were players we wouldn’t have been able to afford otherwise (Forster excepted). They added to the squad’s quality overall.
Now, though, we’re in a position where our three most prominent loanees aren’t guaranteed starters. So what’s the point? If they aren’t able to lift the team, why are we barring opportunities for younger players?
The incoming Director of Football/Sporting Director/whatever will need to modernise the club in a number of ways, but chief among them is our transfer model. Generally speaking, we’ve neglected the buy low, sell high approach that has seen Celtic secure talents like van Dijk and Wanyama. Brexit will make that harder to do regardless, so there’ll be challenges either way.
Even then, you’ve got to assume there are better players for us out there. Within our own league, there are footballers who would bolster the Celtic squad.
If we do have to loan players, they need to be of a higher standard than this season. Ultimately, though, I’m not sure I’m not alone when I suggest we shouldn’t bother doing it at all.