How much money Celtic can realistically expect for out-of-favour trio

By Euan Davidson

January 6, 2022

Sometimes, signings don’t work out; look at Celtic trio Albian Ajeti, Vasilis Barkas and Boli Bolingoli.

Two from the summer of 2020, and one from the 2019 season. All three were signed with decent enough pedigree. Ajeti had banged them in for FC Basel, and was capped by Switzerland. In fact, he’d been signed for £8m by West Ham United just a year before us [BBC].

Boli Bolingoli, too, was signed with a growing reputation. At Rapid Vienna, he made his name as a roving left-back, seemingly a low-cost and high-reward replacement for £25m man Kieran Tierney. Of course, he ruined his Celtic prospects with an ill-fated Spain folly in 2020, and the rest of the story wrote itself.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Barring a couple of surprise appearances this season, his future looks to be elsewhere.

As for Vasilis Barkas, well it’s obvious. We’ve got Joe Hart and Scott Bain above him in the pecking order. For a former international goalkeeper, who still has aspirations of playing for Greece, he needs a better playing situation. He was a decent signing on paper, but it just didn’t work out.

And so, the trio look likely to be out the door this month. In terms of squad building, we’re a little bloated in a number of positions, left-back and goalkeeper being chief amongst them.

But realistically, what can we actually expect to recoup from nearly £12m worth of investment? Let’s look at each player’s case, and what’s most likely.

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What could Albian Ajeti net Celtic, as part of Hoops trio?

Signed for £4.5m [BBC], Albian Ajeti doesn’t seem like he’d be able to garner nearly as much after a disappointing spell at Celtic.

He’s shown flashes of quality, and started brightly for the Bhoys. However, injury concerns and being a back-up to Odsonne Edouard and – at times – Leigh Griffiths put paid to any momentum at Celtic.

This season, he’s filled in a few times and been either decent or anonymous. He was particularly good against Ross County and Real Betis, but he has shown uninspired form in a handful of other appearances. Overall, he’s scored 9 goals in 45 appearances for Celtic [Transfermarkt].

He could, though, be an attractive proposition for a team willing to make him first-choice. Still only 24, he has European experience and 11 Switzerland caps.

Roughly, though, I wouldn’t expect for Ajeti to bring in more than £2m at the very most. Realistically, somewhere between £1-2m seems the most likely.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Could Celtic recoup much of Barkas outlay?

Ah man. Speaking subjectively for a second, I really, really wanted it to work out for Vasilis Barkas.

I think that quite a lot of supporters did. We love a redemption story. As a player with decent ability with the ball at his feet, it felt like Ange’s arrival was a new start for him. But we all know how it turned out.

The job now will be to do right by Barkas. Jetted into Glasgow in the midst of a pandemic, settling was always going to be hard for him, and it showed on the pitch. But when he was signed by Celtic, he was a very decent prospect, another player with international caps and a solid reputation in his homeland.

His reputation, though, has taken such a battering that Celtic can’t expect to recoup the £4.5m spent on him in the summer of 2020. A loan deal with an option to buy might be a good idea, so the Hoops can demand a potentially bigger outlay after 6 months or so.

However, a clean break is probably what’s needed here. And I think Celtic are likely to take a £3m hit on Barkas.

Personally, I’d expect Celtic to take £1.5m or around that to get a deal done. He needs a fresh start.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

The curious case of Boli Bolingoli; the last of the out-of-favour Celtic trio

It says something that the Turkish champions of 19-20, Istanbul Basaksehir, wanted Celtic exile Boli Bolingoli in their Champions League squad.

Clearly, he’s rated. Celtic beat teams around Europe for his services, in the aftermath of Kieran Tierney’s departure. £3m looked like good value after his first season, where he showed some qualities, albeit he was something of a rough diamond who needed more game-time.

His loan at Baseksehir was marred by injury, but when he did play, he was actually pretty good in the Super Lig. Defensively, the fallen Champions were better with him in the team, as they secured Super Lig safety in the 20-21 campaign.

That could work to our favour. There’ll still be interest in him, and at 26 he presumably has his peak years ahead of him. At one point it looked as if a Celtic revival was on the cards, but the Hoops will surely move him on if it’s possible.

For how much, though? I think Celtic would do well to recoup half of what we paid for him: £1.5m.

Speaking optimistically, that’s £5m for circa £11m worth of signings. But these things happen, and it’s imperative that Celtic trim the squad where necessary, including moving on a trio who’ve had a difficult time in the Green and White.

Read more: Scott McDonald on squad integration and how new Japanese Bhoys can push for success at Celtic

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