If you are minded as I am, the modern bi-annual transfer window system is an abomination. One with very few pros and way too many cons. For a club like Celtic, I feel it further handicaps them from both a buying and selling standpoint.
Celtic are, make no mistake, a massive club but with very limited financial muscle and must, therefore, navigate these windows in a prudent and considered manner – always structuring plans in line with a longer term view.
The days of Celtic signing a fully developed, experienced and proven international star on both a big transfer fee and on significant wages, are pretty much numbered. Instead, replace ‘star’ with ‘starlet’ and accept that the club must, to maximise its financial gain, be prepared to mould the final product for some other more impatient clubs ultimate sporting gain and you get a more realistic appraisal of the policy that Celtic are restricted to using.
As Scottish Champions and current treble winners, Celtic are clearly none the worse in a domestic sense for having adopted such a strategy. In that context Celtic, still far and away the biggest club, have most probably pressed home their advantage and improved their standing when contrasted with their domestic foes. In a European sense, they have however the lack of financial clout only serves to make their qualification for the Champions League more crucial than ever, though it’s far less certain.
So far, the club have excelled themselves all things considered.
Fans, of course, would dearly love for their club to be a big player in the transfer market and to play a role which is far more commensurate to the stature of a club with such a rich history and worldwide appeal. The support have, by and large, tempered their expectations to quite a significant degree and they have taken a very realistic view of the matter…but as fans, of course, they will continue ‘daring to dream’.
Just what business can the Celtic board and management teams come up with in the summer of 2018?! To what degree can Celtic improve against a backdrop of financial lunacy elsewhere?!
The clubs longer-term vision is for me the most apparent advantage Celtic hold over the cash-fuelled, financially doped rivals down south and further afield.
Celtic have in recent years plucked a few gems from developing and untapped markets. To use Tom Rogic as just one example, they have capitalised on the excellent sporting success of his signing and bolstered the Celtic brand in Australia via several official partnerships and affiliate programmes, no doubt looking to secure a front row seat when it comes to sourcing the next Oz wonder-kid.
Currently, Celtic have pre-existing squad members who have been loaned out to assist in rounding off their development at other clubs – some players will inevitably be sold as they for one reason or another have not made the necessary developmental strides and are deemed superfluous to the clubs planning. It is in the loan-signings however of Celtics’ transfer model that is of most relevance to this article, however.
Celtic have been increasingly active in acquiring loan-based targets, players of a certain quality and demographics of age. Players that parent clubs may well either be hoping to develop or who are close to being seen as superfluous to plans.
Firmly in the development only mould, the Hoops signed, Charly Musonda.
Charly is clearly a player of genuinely incredible quality. Loan deals don’t always hold great appeal for the fans, however, but as with Roberts, he comes with that unique and rare talent that makes an 18-month deal seem like an absolute coup for the Scottish game.
There was talk that the Musonda deal will cost Celtic around two million pounds all said and done. For two million pounds they previously signed guys like Mo Bangura and Miku, Teemu Pukki and paid for around two-thirds of Derk Boerrigter. Surely a season and a half ownership of such a fantastic, entertaining, motivated and otherwise un-purchasable player is worth more to the club than the entire contribution of the four aforementioned signings. Surely?!
Patrick Roberts is another fantastic player, a born entertainer and a fans favourite at Celtic Park. Realistically though he will not pass that regular first-team playing threshold at Manchester City as the clamour of everyone associated with that club is to have a squad full of worldwide, ready-made superstars.
Sadly, for Celtic and the boy himself, his game time and therefore development has been badly curtailed by injury so far this season – something which will impact upon his need to play more consistently over the next season or two despite his parent clubs inability to offer him such opportunities.
If I were in charge at Celtic, I would look to spend the money on a proven talent like Patrick, a player whose value could yet rise significantly and as a sweetener to his parent club a preferred buy-back option could be installed. Everyone wins – Patrick gets game time, his current club get the security of an agreed period in which to monitor him and offer him a set-price return, and for Celtic, they get a player of outstanding quality with a re-sale agreed in principle. No significant risk there surely?!
Lastly, there’s Odsonne Édouard. Now unlike my first two examples, he was signed to a full-time deal already in mind. If it is a case of one or the other, it would then seem like Odsonne was always Brendan Rodgers prime target.
Young Master Édouard started off his Celtic career as something of an enigma, an apparent seven-million-euro fee having been agreed set off expectations that a final product was not far from view. In truth, he was and remains a raw yet powerful and undeniable talent, not yet fully aware of his own strength and athletic abilities, nor yet a prolific marksman of great repute.
His signs of continued development do however echo the rumours that he has fully applied himself and is showing frighteningly high levels of potential in day-to-day club activities. His recent match-day performances also appear to display a rapid acceleration in his professional development. His composure looks streets ahead of most 20-year olds let alone one who’s simultaneously learning their trade and a new language while under the microscope of so many trained eyes.
It may well be that the kid has found a place he can call home, I for one sincerely hope so.
That brings me to the kicker…if Celtic do have the opportunity to sign both Roberts and Édouard this summer, then I’m a fully signed up believer that they should. If it were one or the other, who would the clubs fans be most enthused over?!
Roberts and Édouard; to buy or not to buy – who is my question?