£7m Stuart Armstrong followed his dream; but Celtic have yet to adequately replace his goals

By John Reid

November 12, 2020

During the international break we thought we’d take a look at a Celtic player that was sold in the last few seasons that should have been kept. That player is Southampton’s Stuart Armstrong.

Stuart Armstrong’s Celtic career has to be defined by one season in particular – the invincibles season of 2016-17. Up until that season he had been a good player for the Hoops  – during that season he came a great player for the Hoops.

Scored 17 goals in famous season

He added a real goal threat to the Hoops squad from the middle of the park which he had not been doing as much up until then. Maybe it was the managerial influence of Brendan Rodgers, but in 2016-17 he was a player transformed, as he ended the season with 17 goals.

However, he didn’t stay at Celtic for that much longer. Just one season later he completed a move to Premier League side Southampton. BBC Sport reported that the fee was £7m.

There was really little that Celtic could do to stop the player leaving, as he told the Daily Record in January that his goal was to play in England.

“I had almost left the year before, but we’d had the invincible Treble and I loved the manager. But there was an ambition ingrained inside my head that I wanted to play in England” Armstrong said.

That might well have been the case. However, Celtic have yet to adequately the goals that Armstrong brought to the team from the middle of the park.

Okay, Mo Elyounoussi could beat the total of 17 goals this season. But he is not a midfielder in the style Armstrong was. Neither is Tom Rogic, who is more of a creator. People might find similarities between Ryan Christie and Armstrong, but Christie plays all over the middle of the park, and has also played up-front. They aren’t the same type of player.

Would player have stayed with a new contract?

If only there had been a way for Armstrong to commit to Celtic until 10 in a row was clinched.

Stuart Armstrong celebrates scoring for Celtic (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Would he have stayed if Celtic had offered the player a new deal with bigger wages? That would have been a real bonus for the club.

However, it was not to be, and he is currently doing well for Southampton. Still, he was an excellent player for Celtic and is still missed to this day.

In other news, John Fallon has defended Vasilis Barkas.