After Celtic’s 2020/21 season, it is a surprise there are any players worth keeping at the club.
Despite this, the current campaign has been a result of collective underperformance rather than a dearth of individual quality. The Hoops are set for a rebuilding job in the summer as they recruit for 2021/22. Of that, there’s no doubt whatsoever.
With all the talk of signings, though, here are three players who must not pass through the Parkhead exit door. From a mainstay during 9IAR to a talent who could be a world-beater, these guys have to stay for a title push in 21-22.
It may be a little unusual to include someone in the very infancy of their football career in this list. That said, Karamoko Dembele does not meet your typical criteria for an academy product. Mercurially talented, his trickery could see him become a crucial first-team player in the next year.
Initially thought to be leaving the Hoops on a free transfer in 2021, Dembele is now thought to be contracted to Celtic until 2022. In desperate need of a right-winger to challenge James Forrest, the Hoops may already have the perfect solution. Bursting on to the scene, the 18-year-old made his Celtic U20s debut at the tender age of 13 [Bleacher Report].
Present within the senior Lennoxtown environment for a number of years, he made his Celtic first-team debut against Hearts in 2019 [Daily Record]. For whatever reason, the Celts haven’t maximised his potential in spite of the prospective benefits. With Lille and Nantes reportedly interested in his services [Daily Record], Celtic should give Dembele his chance sooner rather than later.
Callum McGregor – next Celtic captain?
Seemingly the captain elect upon Scott Brown’s departure, it is absolutely imperative Celtic keep hold of Callum McGregor. One of the most influential players during nine in a row, it is no surprise there’s interest. Former manager Brendan Rodgers is known to be a keen admirer of him [Daily Mail].
The Scot has received some unwarranted criticism in recent months. Deployed in an unusually deeper role frequently, he has not been able to break between the lines regularly enough. Nevertheless, McGregor has still recorded 11 goal contributions: four goals and seven assists [Transfermarkt].
Always reliable in possession, his pass success rate of 89.6% illustrates his dependability even not at his fluid best [WhoScored]. Utilised correctly under a new manager in 2021/22, we should expect a major revival from the Celtic stalwart.
The case to keep Ryan Christie at Celtic
Okay, hear me out. Ryan Christie has not had the greatest time in 2020/21 by any stretch. Nonetheless, he’s statistically the Hoops best creator, posting 14 assists as well as seven goals [Transfermarkt].
The recent developments surrounding his contract are concerning. As reported by the Daily Record, he may be free to talk to clubs in the summer as his deal may expire in January 2022.
Ultimately, his situation as a Celtic player could be decided with the arrival of a new manager. Granted, Christie adopts some extremely erratic characteristics, with some questionable decision making. Coached efficiently, he could be a key foil in a new-look Hoops side. A player who works best on the edge, he is one of the few risk-takers in the Celts squad.
Averaging 2.1 passes per game [WhoScored], his propensity to make things happen elevates Celtic’s offensive activity. Divisive amongst the support, it is worth remembering he fired 20 goals and 16 assists in 45 outings in 2019/20 [Transfermarkt].