Pat Bonner believes Celtic must put an end to frustrating transfer policy

By David Walton

May 16, 2021

BBC pundit Pat Bonner believes the days of project signings at Celtic Park are over as he bigged up a change of transfer policy.

Celtic have nowhere to hide this summer. An analysis from 67HailHail on the summer rebuild found that we could need as many as 13 players this summer. That is if Celtic want to have two options for every position.

In recent years, we’ve been guilty of stockpiling young players that have just never proven to be good enough. The likes of Patryk Klimala, Vakoun Bayo, and Marian Shved are some of the more recent examples. However, the likes of Rami Gershon, Eboue Kouassi, Jo Inge Berget, Rabiu Ibrahim, Teemu Pukki, and Amido Balde are some of the others over the last decade.

And Bonner believes it’s time for this kind of signing to be put to bed after losing the title. Speaking on BBC Sportsound yesterday, the Parkhead great said: “A huge job has got to be undertaken here. New players in and players out, structurally everything has got to change to get back competing against Rangers.

“Because Rangers will be a force next year. They’re high in confidence. With the crowds back their fans will be on a high also. They’ll add to their squad – they probably will, and Celtic have got to do a huge job in the summer to just get to a point where they’re now competing.

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“And it’s not about bringing in players that are going to be a bit of a product that you can actually develop and sell on. That day’s almost gone now. It’s about getting players in that can make an impact and be the leaders. That, you have to pay money for, unfortunately.”

Celtic can’t get caught up in points gap, but transfer policy changes would be welcome

It’s important that Celtic don’t get too concerned with the points gap this season. Bonner believes that’s a sign we need real investment just to compete, but I feel that makes the task sound almost beyond us if we want to build a team capable of winning the league title in 12 months.

We have to go back to the Martin O’Neill days. In the 1999/2000 season, Celtic lost the league by 21 points. In came O’Neill, investment was put into the transfer signings, and the Hoops would win the title by 15 points. That’s a 36 point swing, and that proves a title-winning rebuild can be done over the course of a summer.

But Bonner is also right with his frustration with Celtic’s transfer policy. In O’Neill’s first year, how many product buys did Celtic make that weren’t ready for the first team? Zero. The only player who you could’ve labelled a project was Troy Douglin. Even so, that was a loan deal, and Celtic were only open to a permanent move on the basis where they would pay if he made the grade.

Project signings such as Vakoun Bayo shouldn’t be our priority / (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group via Getty Images)

They didn’t go about splashing £2-£5m on players who could develop into a good player in a year or two. They knew action was needed immediately and strengthened with internationals and experienced stars.

It’s fair to say a similar job is needed this season. Only top talents and leaders should be accepted this summer. That’s what we have a major shortage off, and it should be our first priority when looking for players.

We’ll see whether Celtic bother listening.

In other news, Celtic should still appoint Eddie Howe this week despite a reported issue.