Celtic need to sort out Edouard, Ajer exits well before Champions League qualifiers start

By Euan Davidson

June 17, 2021

If Celtic are to progress in the Champions League qualifiers, we need clarity on a number of issues.

At the moment, it’s nearly impossible to decide on Postecoglou’s best XI. While reports can give us some clues, we have no idea how close certain players are to leaving. Kristoffer Ajer is being linked to Bundesliga outfits, but Odsonne Edouard speculation has been quiet over recent days.

As sad as it’ll be to see either player go, let alone a few others who are likely out the door, we need clarity. Not just the supporters; when Postecoglou arrives for pre-season training, he needs to know who’s going to be there beyond the summer.

Yes, the transfer market is unpredictable in terms of outgoings. For example, Frimpong’s sudden move to Bayer Leverkusen was a sharp shock [BBC]. But by that point, the league looked gone, and European competition was certainly out of the question. This time round, it’s different.

Ideally, neither of Ajer or Edouard would be leaving Celtic. They’d have multi-year deals, and be at the top of their game going into our meetings with FC Midtjylland. That just isn’t the case, though, and while Celtic do need to rinse every penny from their sales to fund the rebuild, patience is only useful for so long.

"Carl Starfelt to Celtic is a big possibility" | Swedish journalist Anel Avdić

Why the panic? There’s still a month to go, you might say; but Postecoglou and his very different tactics to predecessor Neil Lennon will take a while to integrate. He needs certainty, and to be able to bring his own players in sooner rather than later.

Is the Champions League too high a target for current Celtic team?

It’s not unrealistic to suggest Celtic could qualify for the Champions League. We’ve seen weaker teams than ours compete at Europe’s top table.

However, it does seem like, with how fractured this squad is, it’s going to be a monumental task. Certainly, it’d be asking a hell of a lot from Ange Postecoglou to mould these misshapen parts into a Champions League team. As my colleague David Walton wrote, this is essentially a free hit for the Greek-Australian boss.

New Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou / (Photo by Hiroki Watanabe/Getty Images)

But none of that is to say we shouldn’t be going into these games expecting to lose, either. A club of Celtic’s stature should be working on its squad, bringing in the players we need and moving on the ones who were promised transfers. After a while, for whatever reason, a player’s cycle with Celtic comes to an end. In Edouard and Ajer’s cases, that’s surely true.

And while both seem to exhibit a positive attitude to life at Celtic, it’s clear they both need to be moved. It’s not just about money, it’s about squad harmony. Any player is capable of turning an atmosphere sour with issues away from the field, and the last thing Postecoglou needs as new manager is a divided dressing room.

Celtic, in so many respects, need to get a move on. It’ll be painful to see Ajer or Edouard go, but for our Champions League campaign, it needs to be sooner rather than later.

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