Some Celtic officials didn't want to sell Patryk Klimala to New York Red Bulls

By Euan Davidson

May 19, 2021

New York Red Bulls striker Patryk Klimala had “outstanding” references from his time at Celtic.

That’s according to NYRB sporting director Kevin Thelwell. While Klimala only made 3 starts for the Bhoys, the most notable being against Rangers in October [Sky Sports], he clearly did enough to impress some scouts. The Polish striker, who’s not long made his MLS debut, left Celtic having recouped his outlay for the Hoops.

In an interview with The Athletic, Thelwell was clear about the high regard Klimala had been held in. He said:

“I had outstanding references on him at Celtic.

“There were some people there who didn’t want to let him go, didn’t feel he had the opportunity perhaps he should have done and were also saying if he did get the opportunity Celtic would have been a lot better for it. These are people I trust and people we trust within our network.”

The article continues [The Athletic]:

“Manager Gerdard Struber, hired last year from Barnsley, said he saw, “from the first second” that Klimala would be able to help improve the lineup and called him, “a very interesting young boy with big abilities.”

“Struber also said Klimala had adapted immediately to the principles and style of play in New York.”

Klimala on Poland youth international duty / (Photo by Mateusz Slodkowski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

What did New York see that Celtic didn’t?

Admittedly, Klimala never really got much of a look-in at Celtic. In the entirety of his time in Glasgow, the Polish striker made 28 appearances, scoring just 3 [Transfermarkt]. The next Maciej Zurawski, he wasn’t.

But obviously, New York Red Bulls saw enough in him to pay back what Celtic had spent. The Red Bull network prides itself on its ability to scout players; Patson Daka, Erling Haaland and Dominik Szoboszlai being the obvious examples. So, their scouting methodology clearly picks up things that others don’t.

That’s a worry. If we’ve let go of a 22-year-old talent who’s passed the data test for Red Bull, then it’s something we may live to regret. There was always an air of hastiness to the move; clearly the Celtic bean-counters wanted it done before Klimala truly had a run of games for us.

It’s extremely interesting that there were some at the club reluctant to let him go. If he was in the first-team picture, he must’ve been impressing in training, and doing enough to impress Neil Lennon. A surprise transfer he may have been, having only managed one real prolific season for Jagiellonia, but there was enough from a scout’s point of view and a manager’s point of view to give him game-time.

Is this one we’re going to really regret? Time will tell.

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