The 5-point plan that would lead to a successful summer window for Celtic
It may not be as hectic as last year, but this summer transfer window is just as big for Celtic ahead of another huge season.
The Hoops faced a tremendous challenge last summer as they totally rebuilt the squad from the ground up. Ange brought in as many as 10 first-team players during last year with another 4 arriving in January.
Indeed, at face value, it may look as if there are just one or 2 tweaks needing done given we secured the title and automatic Champions League qualification this year. But there’s plenty more work needing to be completed than it may seem. And here, we take a look at the 5 big goals Celtic should have in their sights that would ultimately lead to a successful summer window:
1. Sign Jota and CCV as early as possible
This one may seem obvious, but it’s still a task that needs to be finalised. The prospect of not getting deals done for these 2 isn’t even worth thinking about. Not when you take into account everything that they accomplished last year.
Celtic are reportedly close to finalising a deal for Benfica talent Jota [Sky Sports]. Carter-Vickers, meanwhile, is said to have agreed personal terms with the club [Daily Record]. All very well and good, and the signs are clearly positive. But as of yet, there are clearly some boxes still to be ticked given no announcements have been made.
With Jota on holiday and CCV representing his country, we may have to wait a short while yet. But a failure to sign either would absolutely blow our transfer tasks wide open. All of a sudden we would need to source another 2 players who could come in and automatically replace them.
Ange wants to build a squad here, and that doesn’t involve losing our best players after year 1.
So long as this remains unofficial, there will be an eagerness from supporters to get both men over the line. It’s an absolute must if we’re all being totally honest. But it’s very early days yet.
2. Immediate and serious competition for Greg Taylor
At the start of last season, we had a few options at left-back. Greg Taylor would eventually win the battle against the likes of Liam Scales, Boli Bolingoli, and Adam Montgomery respectively.
Greg became a vital part of Ange’s title-winning team and racked up 35 appearances for the campaign [Transfermarkt]. His influence was particularly felt during the second half of the season as he featured in all but 1 of our final 18 matches.
And as much as Greg has improved, it undoubtedly became a problem that he was barely being challenged. Yes, we had the quantity, but nowhere near the quality. Montgomery was away on loan with Aberdeen whilst Ange clearly didn’t fancy Boli or Scales. The latter is now being linked with a move to Pittodrie whilst the former is just another part of the deadwood [Daily Record].
If Celtic are to bring in another left-back, it can’t just be a pretender. We need someone to properly compete with Greg and make him actually feel as though his position is under threat. That should bring out an even greater level in him.
It’s reassuring to know the club appears to be really delving into this particular area, but the signing needs to be right.
3. Sign the midfielder Ange has openly called for
I can’t lie, I was a touch surprised when Ange outlined the need for a new midfielder at Celtic Park before the end of the season [Football Scotland].
Despite the departures of Tom Rogic and Nir Bitton, there are still stacks of options in the engine room. Callum McGregor, Matt O’Riley, Reo Hatate, David Turnbull, and Yosuke Ideguchi all provide a good blend and balance in there. Ismaila Soro and James McCarthy are also available as back-up options even if they didn’t impress last season. Scott Robertson and Liam Shaw, meanwhile, will be hoping to break through.
Interestingly, Ange never really made it clear as to what kind of midfielder he wanted to bring in. Are we talking about another number 10 to replace Rogic? Perhaps an extra sitter to compete with Ideguchi? It’s the big million-dollar question that hovers over this particular point.
But all that matters is that Ange will be more than aware of what he needs and the club will too. If we end the transfer window having failed to bring in a central midfielder then it’ll be clear to the fans and public as a whole that the manager wasn’t backed in that regard.
This is clearly a priority to Ange. The likes of Mohammed Abu Fani [Sport 5] and Kevin N’Doram [Homme du Match] have been mentioned as potential options. As things stand, however, it’s as clear as mud as to what direction Celtic go in here.
4. Keep all of last season’s stars – no surprising departures
It would be a huge surprise to see any of our 2021 signings who made a strong impact over the last 10-12 months depart the club, but it’s not unheard of.
Imagine how much of a blow it would be if we suddenly allowed Josip Juranovic, Liel Abada, or Kyogo to just depart after one season? Unlikely of course, but we know that if the colour of the money is green enough, Celtic have proven in the past to sell their top stars a touch earlier than we would’ve liked.
Retaining absolutely all of the players who regularly feature in the starting XI or even the bench needs to be a priority. It doesn’t matter if they signed last summer or in January – the Hoops must ensure that money is no object to them this summer.
Thankfully, we have all of our top stars on long-term contracts as things stand. Therefore, the decision will ultimately be with us whether we allow anyone to depart. The feeling at the moment is that nobody is itching to leave with UCL qualification no doubt playing a big part in that.
Bagging that particular carrot and the money that comes with it should ensure that we simply don’t need to sell this summer. No need to let a big-hitter go in order to “balance the books”. In terms of squad departures, this should be the most stress-free summer we’ve had in a long time.
So long, of course, as Celtic stick to their guns regardless of whatever offers hit the table.
5. Get rid of as much deadwood as possible
You can’t put a number on how many summer exits would be acceptable. If players are refusing to budge and want to hold onto their highly lucrative Parkhead contracts, it’ll be difficult to push them out the door.
But let’s not kid ourselves. We all know the players we want out the door if we can manage it. Albian Ajeti, Bolingoli, and Soro just to name a few. You could also throw in the likes of McCarthy and Chris Jullien if there if we’re pushing things a touch.
Celtic have gotten off to a good start in sending Barkas out the door. Whilst wage details surrounding his loan move to Utrecht haven’t been reported, it at least relieves some of the pressure on the budget for a year. The hope would likely be that he impresses enough to make the move permanent too.
But it can’t end there. If we can make a substantial effort to move as many of the non-contributors at the club, the better a window we’ll have. We don’t want to be sitting here when the window shuts in August with all of the names listed above still here.
Clubs will surely be interested in the players struggling to make it at Parkhead. Jullien reportedly has teams looking at him from back in France [Scottish Sun]. Soro is said to be interesting Neil Lennon at Omonia Nicosia [Super Sport FM]. We’ve also found Boli 2 loan moves over the last 2 campaigns. So there’s surely scope to get some more deals done.
If we can manage the 5 points mentioned above, you’ll do well to find many Celtic supporters complaining about the window we had.