Jason Denayer was one of the big-money targets of last summer, with Celtic reportedly keen on him.
Instead, however, the centre-back went to Lyon for around £9million and hasn’t looked back. So far this season, Denayer has made an eye-watering 32 appearances for the Ligue 1 giants and Belgium.
Granted, it’s not quite Callum McGregor’s 53 club and country appearances. But considering the size of the club and competitiveness of the squad, it’s not a bad return at all.
And, to top it all off, Denayer’s performance last night against Barcelona shows he was always a cut above the Hoops these days.
Lyon managed to hold Barca to a 0-0 draw at home in their Champions League last-16 first-leg clash. Denayer himself put in a stunning performance to earn plaudits on social media. He even took the official club man-of-the-match award.
— Piusazio (@Piusazio) February 19, 2019
Jason Denayer has been immense for Lyon. Rock of a defender
— Rhymes__ (@FemiStuntin) February 19, 2019
Jason Denayer🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/s3pvuO9Eet
— THE ILLUSTRATOR (@LordCloud3) February 19, 2019
— OL English (@OL_English) February 19, 2019
A class above what we could offer
Denayer’s class is just too much for Celtic to afford. Seeing him put in performances like he did last night only go to show how much of a talent he is, and at just 23-years of age too. Snuffing out the likes of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, and Ousmane Dembele shows his progression levels.
Of course, Denayer did spend a year at Celtic during the 2014/15 campaign. Since then, however, he’s developed immensely well and has proven to be too hot a commodity for us to compete for.
He’s become a regular at international level for the World Cup semi-finalists, and certainly won’t ever be back plying his trade in Scottish football again.
But there also has to be a real element of pride in seeing him consistently produce for Lyon. As his side sit third in Ligue 1 and just four points off second-place, Denayer has been a huge part of their success.
Yet, his spell at Parkhead had been the most productive of his career before the move to France. After all, Denayer’s form at Parkhead got him recognised. It earned him moves to Sunderland and Galatasaray, which in turn have helped grow his reputation more.
Just like the way in which Celtic had a hand in Virgil van Dijk’s progress, they can take the same comfort from the way Denayer has moved on too.
But were we ever really going to be able to lure him back to Glasgow? Not on performances lie last night.