How Celtic could land Hibernian's Kevin Nisbet on the cheap

By David Walton

June 1, 2021

It’s no secret by now that Celtic are taking a strong look at Kevin Nisbet.

The Scottish Sun first reported it before the final game of the season against Hibernian. The Edinburgh Evening News, meanwhile, also mentioned it yesterday as they claimed Hibs don’t expect to get through the summer window without offers.

But there was something else in that report from the Edinburgh outlet. They also claimed that Hibs had their eye on Leigh Griffiths in case Nisbet did depart. That they were ready to pounce for Griff on a pre-contract.

Celtic have the option to extend Griff’s deal by another year. As of yet, there has been no news on whether that decision has been made. You have to imagine it’s being left for the new manager to sort out.

However, even if we decide we don’t want to keep him, it’s worth using that option to extend his stay. Why? Because it could be a key bargaining chip for us regarding any move for Nisbet.

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If Celtic want Kevin Nisbet, Leigh Griffiths is the perfect tool to use

A move for Nisbet is so attractive for many Celtic fans. He’s already going to Scotland for Euro 2020 and has hammered home 18 goals in his debut season in the top flight [Transfermarkt]. At 24, he has a big few years ahead of him at the next level.

The Sun reported that Hibs were looking for as much as £3m for Nisbet. That sounds about right, but Celtic could easily use him to replace the struggling Griffiths. That might not be an idea that some Hoops supporters are comfortable with, but Griffiths hasn’t bagged 20 goals since the 2015/16 campaign.

A move back to his boyhood club to see out the final few years of his career would surely attract him. Especially at a time when he’ll feel he can giev something back to the Easter Road club too. And let’s not pretend their own fans aren’t extremely interested in taking Griff back.

Kevin Nisbet celebrates scoring against Rangers / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Of course, trying to offer a straight swap is just cheeky. Celtic have to respect Hibs in any negotiations for Nisbet. Offering an out-of-form striker on the wrong side of 30 for one of Scottish football’s best youn talents won’t be enough.

However, if Celtic throw another £1m into Hibs’ kitty for Nisbet, that could easily do the trick. All of a sudden they’ll have sorted out Nisbet’s replacement and have an extra £1m in the bank. If they can get Griffiths firing again given the emotional attachment he has to Leith, he can be their number one for many years to come.

But Celtic need to evolve. A move for Nisbet looks like the right deal at the right time. Using Griffiths would be a fine way to drive down Hibs’ valuation. Considering Griff looks set to leave for nothing anyway, why not use it to our advantage?

In other news, it looks as though Diego Laxalt is set to land on his feet after leaving Celtic.