The Celtic hunt for transfer value shows how times have changed in just a season

By Euan Davidson

January 21, 2022

You can’t argue Celtic haven’t been nearly beyond reproach with their transfer work in 21-22. Especially in this January window, which now looks all but done for the Hoops; in terms of incomings at least.

Now, before we get into it, what’s always fascinated me is how we talk about money in terms of football. It’s irresistible to feel delighted when Celtic cop an absolute bargain, or wince at the wages being paid when a signing doesn’t work out.

It’s as if it’s our money. In a large sense, it is, given what fans put into the club. But we feel it personally when the club either uses money well, or squanders it on wasteful expenditure.

Photo by Steve Welsh/Getty Images

The example: last season. Chasing the elusive 10th consecutive title, Celtic tried to make statement signings. £4.5m was shelled out on both Vasilis Barkas and Albian Ajeti; two international players with European experience. These were big moves. Shane Duffy’s wages, Uruguayan international Diego Laxalt; it was all about big names.

It didn’t work. For a multitude of reasons. That would’ve caused any board to cower at the idea of parting with vast sums of hard-earned cash. Yet, Celtic have found absolutely sensational value, while managing to balance the books with sales that had to be made.

This winter is the apex of that achievement. We’re looking at Matt O’Riley, Johnny Kenny, Daizen Maeda, Reo Hatate and Yosuke Ideguchi all being bought for what we shelled out on one player last summer. If Celtic finish their transfer business right now, it’ll have been a significant sense.

Celtic are making sensible transfers.

“Celtic have secured another bargain here” | Matt O’Riley insight with Cai Jones

“Celtic have secured another bargain here” | Matt O’Riley insight with Cai Jones
67 Hail Hail (Youtube)

Due diligence and smart thinking pay off for Celtic in the transfer market

Now, much is made of the Moneyball concept, and how stats affect transfer value and so on and so forth. But in terms of how that’s being applied to football – and I promise you, I won’t bore you too much with this – there are plenty of markets where players are both high quality and comparatively cheap.

Players of the ilk we’ve brought in from the J League would cost an arm and a leg in Europe. Perhaps, they’ll be sold on for major fees at some stage. The point is, though, we’ve brought in a top scorer, and two J League Team of the Year entrants from 2021 season for a relative pittance.

We’ve also used the Irish market to bring in one of the League of Ireland’s top prospects for what amounts to a development fee.

Photo by Koji Watanabe/Getty Images

This is outstanding stuff. Even the purchase of Matt O’Riley [Celtic FC], a top player in League One who should already have been playing for a bigger club, represents incredible value.

Finally, Celtic are being smart. There was no need for Celtic to put on big shows of strength in the transfer market, signing big-name European players (at our price range) without thinking about whether it’d necessarily work.

In just a season, the difference is substantial.

That is a very, very good sign for the immediate future of the club, on the pitch and off it.

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