To say Celtic are flying high would be an understatement. After taking Rangers out of the race for good last weekend; the current squad are on the way to winning the league at a canter. That said, the squad is not without its shortcomings and, with a long European campaign coming sooner rather than later, here are five players Rodgers should look to move on as he trims the fat in the current squad.
Nir has come a long way from the ignominy of a sending off against Ajax 11 minutes after being subbed on in one of earliest Celtic appearances and has been a stalwart of the side for years. However, the writing is on the wall for him to move on.
The January signing of Kouassi Eboue will, if all goes to plan, eventually usurp him defensively. In addition, Celtic have clear strength in depth all across centre-midfield: Henderson proving himself to be a serviceable hand when called upon may leave Rodgers seeing Bitton as surplus to requirements.
While some of the other suggestions on this list are somewhat contentious, most Celtic fans wouldn’t be too upset to see the back of Mackay-Steven. While he can be commended for turning down a loan move back to Dundee United last summer instead trying to battle his way into the team at Celtic park- it seems that is a fight he has well and truly lost.
When joining from Tayside alongside Stuart Armstrong, Celtic fans were excited to see how they would grow alongside the team. And while Armstrong has established himself as one of the first names on the team sheet at times- Mackay-Steven has had the opposite impact. Making only 9 appearances this season in all competitions, it is clear Mackay-Steven is not at the level of those in his position. This may leave him looking to the door in a search for first team football.
Perhaps the most obvious of the five, Commons is almost guaranteed to leave for good in the summer. Having already been told he played no part in Rodgers’ plans-going as far as to be left out of the Champions League squad- Commons’ Celtic future seems set in stone. His emergency loan move to Hibs in January shows he still wants to find first team football and Celtic should have no problems trimming up the squad by letting him go when his contract runs out. He has been a great servant for the club.
Dorus De Vries
When Rodgers brought De Vries to Celtic, a man who he claimed was as big a miss to his Swansea team as Suarez when he managed Liverpool, it was to directly challenge Gordon for a starting berth. This is something he has failed to do. While there was some initial optimism, thanks largely to the praise Rodgers passed down to him regarding his passing game, De Vries has not shown himself to be the calm and collected shot-stopper Celtic have needed at times. Two years Gordon’s senior but with vastly less experience at the top level, it’s time for the De Vries experiment to be ended while it still can and allow the slightly younger Logan Baily time to push on for a spot in the first team.
Something of a cult hero among many fans, Emilio is well respected all across the Celtic family and recently made his 250th appearance in all competitions. He also was, all things considered, a largely successful fill-in for the injured Tierney earlier in the season. However, for arguments sake, if Rodgers was feeling particularly ruthless and wanted to inject the squad with even more youth, this may be the place to start. A youthful option to keep Tierney on his toes, who would ideally be versatile across the back line to give the team greater tactical flexibility, would serve the squad better in the long run.