The Celtic transfer trend that shows no sign of stopping soon

By Euan Davidson

October 14, 2021

It’s natural that when we talk about Celtic and the transfer window, certain names will pop up.

The fact is, we watch Scottish football every week. Sometimes twice, if we’re lucky. Therefore, when opposition players impress us, chances are they’ll feature in the transfer thoughts of fans going forward.

There are very obvious examples from recent years. John McGinn was one who got away. Lewis Ferguson, Calvin Ramsay, Josh Doig, Kevin Nisbet are recent ones.

Photo by Alex Morton – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

Historically, Celtic have mined from around the league to often very decent effect. Martin O’Neill did it with the likes of David Fernandez, Rab Douglas, Ulrik Laursen, Didier Agathe, Momo Sylla and others I’m sure I’m forgetting.

Gordon Strachan loved a domestic signing. From Chris Killen and Derek Riordan, to much loved figures like Scott McDonald and Scott Brown. Then there’s Paul Hartley, Barry Robson, Mark Brown, Steven Pressley and Gary Caldwell to consider, too.

Neil Lennon had Anthony Stokes and Leigh Griffiths, two players who undoubtedly made an impact. You can add Charlie Mulgrew, Dylan McGeough and Tony Watt to that list, too, albeit those weren’t first-team signings necessarily.

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In more recent years, though, the numbers have dwindled. Ronny Deila may have picked up Stuart Armstrong and Gary Mackay-Steven, but generally speaking, he wasn’t huge on signing talent from within Scotland. Nadir Ciftci showed that goals in the league don’t necessarily translate to playing for Celtic.

Brendan Rodgers brought in Youssuf Mulumbu, Jonny Hayes, Jack Hendry, Lewis Morgan and Scott Bain. Only one of those became something of a regular for Celtic.

In Lennon’s second spell, Greg Taylor and David Turnbull were brought in, to very decent effect, but that’s two out of twenty signings [Celtic Wiki]. Ange Postecoglou seems to have continued that trend thus far.

Are the days of Celtic making transfer moves from within Scotland over?

This downward trajectory of signing players from within Scotland is perhaps just a trend. However, the talents have certainly been there. In prior years, you could imagine Celtic taking a punt on Doig or Nisbet.

David Turnbull signed from Motherwell and was Player of the Year in his first season. There’s nothing to say Celtic won’t go in that direction again.

Do you see it happening soon, though? Likely, Postecoglou will have noted some talents during his brief spell in Scotland. However, in terms of longer-term value, Celtic have got more joy out of scoping for rough diamonds in lesser-known locales.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Given “bigger” league clubs’ reluctance to sign talents from the Scottish Premiership, it seems a model that Celtic are more likely to follow if they want financial results from their scouting and player development.

It’s frustrating in a sense, watching certain Scottish top-flight talents do the business week-in, week-out. Especially knowing Celtic have the financial muscle to steal away players from Hibs, Aberdeen, St Mirren etc.

The signs seem to be, though, that Celtic’s history of signing some of the top dogs in Scotland is waning. Whether that’s for better or worse is your own call to make.

Read more: Bayo and Shved struggling in Belgian top-flight after Celtic departures

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