Celtic turnover has shades of Rodgers' rebuild in 2016

By Euan Davidson

April 28, 2021

Celtic fans: cast your mind back to the sepia-tinged days of summer 2016.

I know, it was so long ago, now. We didn’t know what a “coronavirus” was, and Boris Johnson had launched a failed bid to become Prime Minister. ‘Work’ by Rihanna was in the charts. It was a different time.

During that summer, Celtic were in the midst of enormous turnover at the club. The incoming and outgoing players must have met each other at a furious pace on the steps out Paradise. In total, over the course of 16-17, 25 players left [Transfermarkt], when you take into account loan moves as well as transfers. That number also includes the expiring loan deal of Patrick Roberts at the end of the season, but even then: that’s a huge quantity of players who left the club in some form or fashion.

Meanwhile, 6 players arrived at the club in the summer, 8 if you include Academy graduates. While Ronny Deila had built the main components of the side that Rodgers made invincible, key names like Moussa Dembélé and Scott Sinclair came in to make the Bhoys imperious.

We talk about a rebuild for next season, and it’s definitely true that we need one. Some long-established names are heading for the exit, and new Celtic heroes will have to arrive. But Celtic fans ought to be heartened by some of the transfer activity the club are doing in advance.

Moussa and Scotty: huge signings from our last “rebuild” / (Photo by Steve Welsh/Getty Images)

Celtic are already getting rid of some deadwood

With the moves of unseen squad members like Andrew Gutman and Manny Perez, space is already being cleared. £3.5m for Patryk Klimala is fantastic value, while anything approaching the £2m paid for Vakoun Bayo would be a coup. It hurt to lose Cameron Harper, who looks like he could be a real prospect. Nonetheless, the transfer business in general has already been relatively decent.

If you add in the fee we received for Jeremie Frimpong [BBC] and to a lesser extent, Hatem Abd Elhamed, there’s already a growing transfer fund. Inevitably, we’ll see the likes of Odsonne Edouard and Kristoffer Ajer leave, but they should be able to garner at least £10m each. Anything less would be an utter under-evaluation and an embarrassment for the club.

So, if this business feels familiar, it’s because it is.

Beyond the financial aspect, it’s clear that space is being created within the squad. Again, the Celtic first-team has become bloated with players who don’t get minutes. Just like when Rodgers took over, really. It’s also obvious that the board are putting together a budget through player sales. That’s something that needed to happen, whether you trust this board or not.

Yes, Celtic could have recruited better in the past, and we’re suffering for it this season. But when you consider the likelihood of moving on players including Boli Bolingoli, Olivier Ntcham and more, the next Celtic boss could have more to spend than Rodgers did.

Money doesn’t equal success. However, considering the impact of those summer 2016 moves, it’s not hard to see shoots of optimism emerge from the chaos of 20-21.

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