Celtic loan move for Stephen Welsh now looks beneficial after Ange previously shut it down

By David Walton

May 17, 2022

Ange Postecoglou refused Udinese in their attempts to take Stephen Welsh on loan in January, but the same outcome surely wouldn’t be the case this summer.

The Daily Record reported at the start of the year that Celtic turned down several offers from the Serie A side for Welsh. The idea being that Ange wanted him to remain and fight for the 2 centre-back positions held by Carl Starfelt and Cameron Carter-Vickers respectively.

But fast forward 4 months and Welsh was barely given an opportunity. The Scotland under-21 international made 24 appearances for the club this term, but he didn’t feature in a single league match outside of trophy day in 2022. Welsh started Scottish Cup games against Alloa and Raith Rovers respectively, but outside of cameos against Rangers and Motherwell, that’s been his whack this year [Transfermarkt].

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Postecoglou addressed Welsh’s lack of game-time along with Christopher Jullien’s just one week ago. He stated that he simply doesn’t like rotating often at centre-back and that it’s difficult to give players minutes [Celtic TV].

However, Welsh is at an age where he simply can’t be sitting on the bench due to potential stagnation in his development. He’s also well surpassed the idea of playing B team football too. Therefore, the only logical option heading into the summer is to send him out on loan.

Let’s be honest, even if Cameron Carter-Vickers signs permanently or not, we’ll still strengthen substantially at centre-back. Ange will either bring in 2 new players or he’ll simply add another as well as CCV. The Athletic has already reported that a new centre-back is on the agenda regardless of Carter-Vickers’ permanent destination.

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Stephen Welsh’s long-term Celtic future could blossom with one more loan spell

Let’s be blunt about Welsh’s position right now. Yes, he’s a talent who will hopefully become a first-choice Celtic centre-back one day. But that day isn’t now. He’s still well behind CCV and Carl Starfelt in terms of all-round quality. If anything happens to one of them next term, another central defensive option will likely come in as opposed to Stephen.

Welsh would still see minutes if he remained at Celtic Park, but they would be rare. He doesn’t want another 4-6 months like he experienced in the second half of the current campaign. Yes, he may be part of a winning Celtic squad involved in UCL football. But he would barely be playing. It would be a short-term rush over long-term gain.

Any loan would of course have to meet the required standard. A move to the English lower leagues does next to nothing for him. Similar alternatives to the Udinese option would be extremely ideal. It could effectively secure a prosperous long-term Celtic future if he manages to develop with more first-team minutes at a top league.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Of course, much of this is down to the manager. Perhaps he sees Welsh as one of his big options for next season. But in reality, if we strengthen further, it would be in everyone’s best interests for him to get first-team minutes elsewhere.

You just can’t see Ange being so determined to turn down a potential summer departure in the manner he did back in January. The situation has changed now and Celtic have an entire transfer window to strengthen further in the position. Given the club are reportedly looking to do that, that tells a story about Welsh’s position within the squad.

Don’t be surprised if he’s one of the names making a temporary move before the new season begins.

In other news, Bristol City boss clarifies transfer stance on Celtic-linked Antoine Semenyo