As we press ahead with seemingly three settled goalkeepers in the squad, it appears that a potential destination may have opened up for Conor Hazard to ply his trade elsewhere.
According to the Sun journalist Alan Nixon, Hazard is being watched by English League One side Accrington Stanley, and they could make an offer if he doesn’t sign a new contract. Hazard’s current deal is due to expire in 2023 however (Transfermarkt).
ACCRINGTON. Watching developments with keeper Hazard at Celtic. Could be available if does not sign a new deal. Stanley would take him full time.
— Alan Nixon (@reluctantnicko) September 20, 2020
In any other season this would make sense. A chance to go down to League One and potentially make an impact whilst gaining vital first-team experience? Sign him up.
But Hazard actually let slip Celtic’s position on his future this summer. Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph last week, the Northern Ireland under-21 international said: “I’ve had quite a lot of places to go but from the club’s perspective with Covid and the lack of numbers it just wasn’t the right time to let me go out.”
Leaving now wouldn’t make a lick of sense
So if the club believed that the time wasn’t right for Hazard to leave earlier this summer then surely nothing has changed in that respect.
The only way this would be plausible is if all offers for him came before Vasilis Barkas arrived. However, Barkas signed at the end of July. It’s highly unlikely all of Hazard’s opportunities to go out on loan came before August.
But even so, if Celtic allow the youngster to leave then it puts us in a needless rush to find a third-choice goalkeeper. With Ross Doohan currently on loan at Ross County, the Hoops would then have to turn to the inexperienced Ryan Mullen if they didn’t sign anyone. A goalkeeper who has never experienced first-team football anywhere as of yet.
That just wouldn’t be on. The Hoops would need to go out into the market and find a goalkeeper who would be satisfied replacing our number three. You’ll do well to find a quality shot-stopper who’ll happily do that.
To sum up, it just doesn’t feel right that Hazard would be allowed to leave now as opposed to earlier in the summer. It would still leave us short, and we could do with keeping him given he’s had various spells out on loan in the past. He’s more ready than any of our other young goalkeepers when it comes to playing for Celtic at first-team level.
The last thing we need in the final weeks of the window is to try and make a mad dash to sign another shot-stopper. There are other priorities that need to be addressed. It’s difficult to see what positives there would be in allowing Hazard to depart at this stage.