Victor Wanyama left Celtic Park for a reported fee of £12.5 million. He was bought by Celtic from Belgian side Beerschot AC as a 20 year old for just £900,000 in July 2011. It’s the latest fine example of Celtic’s policy of buying cheap and selling high.
Celtic Manager, Neil Lennon stated “The policy over the last few years has been to bring younger players in, develop them and sell them for decent money.“
Star striker Gary Hooper remains a target for several English clubs including Norwich and Hull City who unsuccessfully bid £4.5 million in early July. Queens Park Rangers are the latest club to make an offer, reportedly £ 4.5 million also.
Celtic’s assistant manager, Johan Mjallby conceded
“We know it looks likely right now that Gary is going to leave the club. I’m not too sure the final word has been said yet. We have to wait and see.”
Hooper signed for Celtic when aged 22 costing £2.4 million and any move away will ensure another healthy profit.
Similarly, South Korean Ki Sung-Yeung arrived in Glasgow as a 20 year old costing £2.1 million and was sold to Swansea City for € 6.2 million three years later. Also, academy graduate Aiden McGeady was sold for £9.5 million to Spartak Moscow. Celtic are clearly intent on continuing this trend. Fans may deride the term “Selling Club” but every club will sell any player if the deal is right.
Celtic has found that value can be difficult to find when buying from the major leagues with the English Premier League as an example. Minor leagues are Celtic’s choice. Beram Kayal, Efe Ambrose (signed from Israeli clubs), Emilio Izaguirre (Honduras), Gary Hooper, Kris Commons (both from clubs in English League One), Ki Sung-Yeung (South Korea), Victor Wanyama (Belgium) have all been plucked in recent years from the less glamorous divisions around the globe. An impressive statistic is that the Hoops starting eleven that defeated Barcelona in the Champions League came at a transfer cost of just £6.5 million.
Along with the price of Celtic’s potential targets, age is paramount. It is no coincidence that Neil Lennon’s two signings this June, Virgil van Dijk and Amido Baldé are 21 and 22 years old respectively.
On his two new acquisitions, Lennon said
“Amido is a bit raw, which you expect at 21. We liked the look of a Portuguese player called Eder a few years ago and he has gone on to Braga and is valued highly – so we are hoping Amido will progress in a year or two’s time and become a top class centre-forward.”
“Virgil we feel is technically very good, has great presence on the pitch and will suit our style of play.”
26 year old Steven Mouyokolo also signed in July as a free agent. No money spent will ensure less pressure will rest on the Frenchman’s shoulders.
Despite their massive global fan base, Celtic sift through the football flea markets and bargain basement stores but are adept at doing so. The current crop of stars are testament to that.
With a real prospect of progressing to another Champions League Group stages after a comfortable victory last week against Cliftonville, quality and quantity are both needed if the Hoops wish to match last season’s exploits.
Wanyama will leave a void in midfield that Ambrose, Ledley and Kayal will vie for. But is anyone capable of stepping up to the plate?
Balde and Virgil are unlikely to hold starting eleven places. Dylan McGeouch and Tony Watt still remain works in progress. It remains to be seen if Lennon can clinch a player that can make a real difference at Champions League level.
In addition to buying low cost players, Celtic’s youth facilities and coaching practices have been raised to the standards of Europe’s best.
The completion of the £8 million Lennoxtown training facility, the continued participation in the prestigious NextGen Series and the appointment of a Performance Consultant, Gaelic Football coach Jim McGuinness, highlights Celtic’s increased focus on developing talent rather than gambling on expensive mercenaries.
This can only be good for the club.