Concerning Celtic transfer trend emerging as club look to rebuild

By Euan Davidson

April 28, 2021

Celtic are continually losing out on talents from the EFL.

Over the last season, we’ve seen countless names linked to the club. Alfie Doughty was publicly sought after. Bright Osayi-Samuel, Ivan Toney, Patrick Roberts (for a return), and a litany of lower-league talents have rejected Celtic’s advances, however concrete they were. Ben Davies is perhaps the most egregious outlier; Liverpool swooped in out of nowhere late on when a Celtic move looked on [Goal].

Kwadwo Baah seems the next to turn down the Bhoys. According to Mark McAdam of Sky Sports News, the Rochdale talent is set to sign for Premier League returnees Watford.

Admittedly, Liam Shaw of Sheffield Wednesday will be a Celtic player next season. Still, concerns remain. It seems that Celtic don’t have the pulling power that they used to, especially with English players. It’s a far cry from the days of securing Premier League talents like Chris Sutton and Neil Lennon.

So, what’s changed? Are the lure of European football and competing for silverware not enough? There seems to be a conception that Scottish Football isn’t as healthy as it was in the early 00s, when the Celtic and Rangers boards were battling to sign top talents. Obviously, we all know now that it wasn’t the best idea for our rivals [BBC].

Is that really true, though? Were Celtic and the SPL generating higher revenues and more interest at the time? Surely, with all of the new TV deals and the continued globalisation of domestic football, the stock of clubs like Celtic is higher than ever. Fine, we’re not on the cusp of reaching a European final any time soon, but needless to say, we should be able to convince a Rochdale winger to sign for us.

Celtic Park / (Photo by Marco Rosi/Getty Images)

Celtic, perhaps, aren’t selling themselves well enough

There are a couple of issues at play here. The first is that, my God, do Celtic dither. For reasons known only to the Celtic hierarchy, the time taken between a player being linked and a player being signed is exhaustive. Take Siriki Dembele for example: there has been months, upon months of speculation, yet we’re no closer to making a move for the winger. A winger who, by the way, has a brother at the club.

The second issue is that our league’s reputation down south is horrendous. While there are occasional tweets from Manchester United fans saying “great atmosphere tbf”, the vast majority don’t seem to hold the game in high regard. Because of the money being poured into the English game, and the superstars who have graced the Premier League, fans and players in England need a fair bit of convincing to travel up.

That’s a shame, because they’re genuinely missing out. It’s also predicated on the idea that because the Championship is exciting, it’s high-quality. You could just as easily point out that because it’s so equal and anyone has a chance of promotion, that nearly every team’s as bad as the other.

Perhaps the issue lies in the pitch that’s made to transfer targets. Obviously, none of us are privy to how Celtic approach players. If you’ve ever signed for the club, get in touch. Otherwise, we’re in the dark – as we probably ought to be – in regards to how Celtic advertise themselves to talented young players.

There has to be some kind of issue there. It seems possible that Celtic just aren’t doing enough to sell themselves. Perhaps there’s a reliance on the glamour of the stadium, or ex-players. Maybe, talented EFL players need to be sold on a “vision”. A “project”.

Or, maybe, it’s just money. But that’s concerning in its own way.

Hard to find answers

So what’s the answer here? It’s impossible to say. But ultimately, it makes our transfer business harder, looking forward. If we’re unable to lure a Charlton player because they want to join Stoke City, it makes things look a little bleak.

While there wasn’t a great deal of buzz around Kwadwo Baah, he would at least have represented a wide option for the next Celtic boss. But once again, it seems a second-tier English side has beaten us to the punch.

Surely, that can’t continue, as Brexit looms to hamper our future recruitment.

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