At the start of April, when Eddie Howe to Celtic was in absolute overdrive (for the first time), former Bhoys midfielder Vidar Riseth claimed we should sign Joshua King.
King, who worked with Howe at the Cherries, seemed an obvious link, in a sense. Celtic need strikers, or forwards who can drift in from wide. He’s going to be out of contract shortly. With all these ingredients in the pot, a rumour was going to cook.
So, let’s get even more obvious with it: Celtic have made this kind of signing before. Think of Scott Sinclair, who had a rough spell with Aston Villa. Brendan Rodgers had struck up a great working relationship with Sinclair at Swansea City. We initially thought “there’s no way we can afford his wages”. Turns out we could: we rejuvenated his career, and he scored 62 goals and set up a further 34 [Transfermarkt].
Chris Sutton was enduring a tricky time with Chelsea, but had previously been a Premier League winner. An offer from Martin O’Neill was enough to take him up the road, and the rest was history.
Could Josh King have the same revival at Celtic? Or is it too big a risk to be a “career hospital”, if you like, for a forward who might be past his best?
Joshua King: a realistic Celtic target?
It’s only natural to assume that Eddie Howe might want to take some familiar players with him to Paradise. Given the exorbitant wages in the Premier League, and in some cases, the Championship, that might be tricky. But with King, it could well be worth the risk.
The misapprehension about the current Everton man is that he doesn’t score enough goals. Perhaps, for a centre-forward. However, the ideal scenario for having King at Celtic would be coming off the left of a front three. His goal return from that position is pretty considerable, having amassed an impressive 10 goals and 8 assists from 58 outings.
You can imagine he’d more prolific in the Scottish Premiership. A Norway international, King’s bread and butter is finishing off chances close to goal. Honestly, that’s not something we have in abundance at this current moment in time, and the ex-Manchester United man’s instincts and positioning would transition well to the Scottish game. There’s plenty of evidence of that here.
Or an expensive gamble?
Ultimately though, we’re talking about a pretty heft chunk of our wage budget here. King has struggled with back injuries [Liverpool Echo], and his short-term contract at Everton hasn’t yielded any goals. As harsh as it sounds, it might be a case of paying too much for far too little.
There’s also the chance that after the injury misery of this season, the Norwegian forward doesn’t want to leave the Premier League. At 29, he’ll feel like he has a few years left at the top of English football. He was, after all, somewhat of a late bloomer.
Also, as impressive as his strike rate has been, is he prolific enough to justify a club of our size paying his wages? It’d be an experiment rather than a sure thing, as odd as it is to say about a 29-year-old.
Celtic may need to be careful
As I’ve said, it could be a Scott Sinclair type of signing. Instant impact, Premier League pedigree, and in need to prove something to the world.
Or, it could be what proves a costly mistake, with his wages surely enough to cover at least two other squad players. Still, if anyone can get a performance out of the Norwegian international, it’s surely Eddie Howe.
Don’t expect this rumour to die down any time soon.