Celtic lack major conviction in transfer market; questions need asked

By Euan Davidson

January 7, 2021

Celtic don’t have time to waste in the transfer market.

The club have been after Alfie Doughty for months, and it was reported yesterday that Charlton are looking to sell the left-winger for a mere £1m (Sky Sports). He’s been compared to Gareth Bale, but now the Daily Mail (print version, 7/1/2021, p.92) are reporting that our city rivals are after him, too.

Similarly, Celtic have dithered on Mark McKenzie, and that’s to our detriment. The American centre-back, currently of Philadelphia Union, has talked up a move to Celtic on Sky Sports. The club has already bid for the promising defender, who has clearly done his homework on the Bhoys.

Yet, he looks likely to move to Genk instead (Glasgow Evening Times).

Celtic have been rapid in moving for players nobody else really wanted. We signed Albian Ajeti from West Ham United without any trouble. There was little competition for Vasilis Barkas either, who only made five league appearances for AEK Athens in 2018-19 (BBC).

When there is significant hype around a player, Celtic seem to go from pole position to off the track completely. It’s a worrying sign, with damaging precedent.

Celtic transfer target Mark McKenzie, playing for the USA / (Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos/Getty Images).

Have Celtic learned nothing from John McGinn transfer market experience?

John McGinn wanted a move to Celtic. His grandfather is a former club chairman (Scotsman). Despite his allegiances to Hibernian, the midfielder was a boyhood Celtic supporter, and was available.

Now, he’s wanted by Liverpool and Manchester United, valued at £60m by his club, Aston Villa (Birmingham Mail).

The McGinn/Celtic fiasco has been widely covered. Still, it raises so many questions about Celtic’s recruitment, and their aggression in completing transfers. The Premier League star was essentially an open goal for the Bhoys, how did we miss?

Doughty and McKenzie’s transfer sagas will meet the same fate if Celtic don’t act. The latter looks set for Genk unless Lennon, Hammond and Lawwell act rapidly. Losing out on Doughty to Rangers is unthinkable.

Imagine bidding for a player multiple times, talking up his signing repeatedly, then missing out to Steven Gerrard’s side. What’s stopping Celtic in getting past the finishing line here?

Is it possible that the recruitment team typically change their mind last minute? Did something we don’t know about happen behind the scenes? Are there attitude problems we aren’t aware of as supporters?

It’s an incredibly frustrating scenario for Celtic fans.

Grandson of a Celtic chairman, John McGinn / (Photo by Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images)

Losing further ground to rivals is beyond the pale

We’re already 19 points behind Rangers (SPFL). Celtic are at risk of losing their USP; being the dominant Scottish club. Before, we could sell the idea of constant trophies and Champions League qualifiers every year.

That’s no longer the case. For youth stars, Rangers are a viable choice. Especially if a young talent is looking to make an impact in British football, with the riches of the Premier League a real prospect.

Alfie Doughty’s agent may be looking at the Premiership table and keeping his fingers crossed. For his part, if Doughty can win a medal within 6 months of a move, his stock will go up.

Celtic need to make a stronger case to prospective transfer targets. We aren’t privy to how the club is being pitched to players, but the fact is that umming and ahhing in this transfer window could cost us dearly.