Celtic's £25m benchmark and what it means for intensifying summer reports
In football, virtually every player has a price.
It’s a reality that Celtic fans have become had to become accustomed to over the last decade, as selling key stars for a profit became an essential part of the club’s business model during the 2010s.
Southampton alone spent the best part of £40 million recruiting Fraser Forster, Virgil van Dijk, Victor Wanyama and Stuart Armstrong over the years from Paradise, as the lack of consistent Champions League football was compensated for with the windfall from player sales.
The latest Celtic player to be tipped to join the list of former stars in the Premier League is Josip Juranovic, following links with Atletico Madrid earlier in the window, the Croatian was linked yesterday with Chelsea and Manchester United.
Any fee north of £10m would represent remarkable business given the paltry reported £2.5m that Celtic paid Legia Warsaw for the 26-year-old just a year ago for the Croatia international, who has excelled in green and white. Despite this, only a transfer rivalling that of the £25m Arsenal shelled out for Kieran Tierney in 2019 [BBC] should move the Scottish Champions to sell him this window.
Juranovic is an essential cog of Ange Postecoglou’s Celtic machine. His aptitude for the inverted full-back role, reading of the game and 1 vs 1 defending were all key to Celtic’s success last season, as the club’s protracted recruitment process to replace Jeremie Frimpong eventually bore fruit.
With his contract running until 2026, Celtic are in an exceptionally strong negotiating position, and guaranteed Champions League group stage football puts the club in no financial obligation to sell this summer. With the season underway, there’s even less incentive to allow a key first-team player to leave, with little time to replace them before the Champions League commences proper next month.
Whether Juranovic would even wish to leave is another question, a potential transfer could jeopardise guaranteed Champions League football and his place in Croatia’s starting eleven for the upcoming Qatar World Cup.
However, the draw of the Premier League will always be one that Celtic will have to contend with, and should the club not have already began to scout a replacement, it’s a process that it would be wise to start sooner rather than later.
Additionally, the £20m soft-cap that the Celtic board consider as their spending for a single window that the Athletic recently reported is unlikely to change, regardless of the fee that Juranovic was sold for. Whilst signing players for less than their predecessor sells for is smart business, a potential Juranovic replacement would likely be identified for a similar fee that Celtic paid to Legia, and it’s difficult to imagine that a bargain transfer for an international, tournament-experienced defender could be secured for a second summer running.
Even from a business perspective, holding out for an exorbitant fee for Juranovic could prove savvy, as even just a middling showing in the Champions League and/or the World Cup could yet bolster the Croat’s value – strong performances could see it multiply.
Whilst the club would be wise to plan for his eventual departure, for now, Celtic should hold firm on their prized defender.