The 5 transfer targets that got away from Celtic in January

By John McGinley

February 2, 2021

Celtic barely delivered on their targets during the recent transfer window.

In fact, across the month, only Jonjoe Kenny arrived on loan from Everton. It’s a deal with no real long-term upside for the Hoops.

That’s despite the first-team squad being weakened with exits for Jeremie Frimpong and Olivier Ntcham.

Celtic will be linked with all and sundry throughout a transfer window.

However, often through that noise, you can determine which players the club were actually interested in. This is either through sustained reports over a long period of time or club employees confirming the interest or staff from other sides doing the same.

I reckon there were five such targets identified by the club in the run-up to and during the January transfer window that they failed to get over the line.

Celtic’s missed transfer targets

Former Philadelphia Union Mark McKenzie was linked to Celtic as far back as July [The Daily Record]. Sky Sports further backed that up in September and then in October.

The broadcaster even carried an interview with the defender in December. He acknowledged there was interest and admitted he was open to a move to the Scottish Premiership.

Having won awards in Major League Soccer for his 2020 form, he looked like a decent choice to replace Jozo Simunovic and ultimately solve our defensive crisis. The 21-year-old looks to have a healthy future, but it won’t be at Celtic.

Former Celtic transfer target Mark McKenzie / (Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos/Getty Images).

Sadly he ended up at Belgian club Genk where he’s already made three appearances and helped keep his first clean sheet.

The Celtic saga involving Alfie Doughty was another tragic recruitment story. Charlton boss Lee Bowyer confirmed Celtic had made multiple six-figure bids for his services in September [The Daily Record]. The deal seemed there to be done.

Then the word came that instead of shelling out a few hundred grand more for the wideman’s services, Celtic would hope to sign him up on a pre-contract basis in January [Glasgow Times].

Celtic offered that agreement to the 21-year-old [The Herald]. However, by that point, it was too late, and Stoke City quickly snaffled him up. Inaction and penny-pinching ensured he slipped through our fingers – sound familiar?

Up next we can look at the duo that Celtic themselves confirmed interest in.

Assistant manager John Kennedy admitted Filip Benkovic was on a shortlist of defensive reinforcements following a nasty injury to Christopher Jullien. Just hours later he would be linked with a loan move to Belgium from Leicester City.

That switch to OH Leuven was confirmed in the days after.

We don’t need to go into the Ben Davies nonsense again. But yes, he has to be included in the list of players we missed out on this month. Neil Lennon confirmed we wanted him. However, despite having all month to agree on a pre-contract, we were gazumped by Liverpool.

Rounding off the list – how about Bright Osayi-Samuel? He was another player linked with a move to Celtic way back in September [The Scottish Sun]. Then it was reported heading into January that he was one of Neil Lennon’s big signing priorities [The Daily Record].

Former Celtic target Bright Osayi-Samuel / (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)

The winger then decided to sign a pre-contract with Fenerbahce, officially making a transfer on January 28th. Perhaps if Celtic had moved a little quicker on this one, again, we could have nabbed the winger.

A worrying trend

Now, not all of this is Celtic’s fault. It’s a challenging market, and other clubs are attractive destinations for promising talents. The club aren’t going to sign every player they have interest in. It’s unrealistic to expect that.

However, to go zero for five on these players in particular, all of whom looked to be achievable signings, is disappointing, to say the least. That’s especially true when we have depth problems in all of their positions.

Celtic Park / (Photo by Craig Williamson/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Our lacklustre recruitment can’t continue if we want to be considered a serious and ambitious club.

Hopefully, with a review of the situation, a new manager and a new CEO, we can sort it all out this summer and beyond.

In other news, it’s time to give Luca Connell his Celtic opportunity.