With Liam Shaw signing, are Celtic reversing concerning trend?

By Euan Davidson

February 17, 2021

Celtic confirmed the signing of Liam Shaw last night [Daily Record].

A couple of issues emerge here. First, the negative: Neil Lennon is continuing to sign players, hinting that he might be here beyond the summer. Given how the 20-21 campaign has gone, that’s maybe not the best scenario.

However, the club have shown real ambition by wrestling Shaw away from his boyhood club. The midfielder joined his local side Sheffield Wednesday at 8 years old [Sheffield Wednesday]. Despite that very obvious connection between player and club, it’s Celtic where he sees himself developing into a top player. Looks like we’ve still got it.

A box-to-box midfielder who’s tough in the tackle and likes to maraud forward, Shaw is undoubtedly a raw prospect. The English teenager, though, has seen regular first-team football under Tony Pulis this season, and it’s clear there’s a bright future for him. Celtic will be hoping that his undoubted potential is fulfilled in Glasgow.

It smacks of familiarity. Celtic have done this before. Jeremie Frimpong’s development was far more rapid than anyone could’ve reasonably expected. Despite losing him in January, which was a sore one, his example means that talented youngsters can see themselves coming to Celtic and making an impact.

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This, during a season where we’ve lost out on Mark McKenzie, Alfie Doughty, Bright Osayi-Samuel and others. It looked for all the world that our club had become unfashionable and unattractive.

Tough tackler: Liam Shaw / (Photo by Joe Prior/Visionhaus/Getty Images)

Celtic signing Liam Shaw in itself isn’t blockbuster, but the impact is encouraging

This isn’t necessarily about Shaw’s qualities, although they’re clearly present. No, the real optimism comes from the hope that this is a sign of things to come.

We’ve seen plenty of promising young players leave, while a number are on the cusp of following suit. Karamoko Dembélé’s contract situation is well-known, Cameron Harper is gone [Daily Record] and the likes of Josh Adam and Liam Morrison departed to elite clubs in Manchester City and Bayern Munich respectively.

With Shaw, though, is there a chance that Celtic are reversing a worrying trend?

There’s reason for optimism here. If Celtic represent a genuine hub of career development, perhaps new faces can convince some of the more experienced Academy players that there’s a route to the first-team.

Alternatively, it could put a few noses out of joint, if Shaw is fast-tracked ahead of the likes of Kerr McInroy or Ewan Otoo. In any event, it’s nice to have something positive to discuss.

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