Celtic don’t have their first team problems to seek, but underneath in the academy, there are major concerns over the pathway from the youth team to the first team.
Cameron Harper is set to leave Celtic two years after signing with the club, the player not fancying his chances of making a first team breakthrough under current circumstances. Read More Here.
However, he follows a pattern of players leaving the club before really attempting to make a breakthrough.
Over the past two years, we’ve lost some major up and coming talent to the big European clubs.
What’s going wrong at the club at youth level?
Here are some of the bigger names to leave the youth academy in recent years, Karamoko likely to be the biggest name come the end of the season
Liam Morrison – Bayern
Barry Hepburn – Bayern
Josh Adam – Manchester City
Liam Hughes – Liverpool
Cameron Harper – New York Red Bulls
Karamoko Dembele – Leaving at end of the current season. Read More Here.
Over and above these lads, we have players toiling, not being able to play competitive football and just training every day with no real chance they’ll catch the managers eye.
It’s easy to say these lads have left for a payday but it runs deeper than this.
There’s no platform for Celtic youngsters to develop within the club and nothing they can do to catch the manager’s eye. Neil Lennon isn’t a big picture manager, he’s a first team manager who wants to deal with the here and now and the eleven men who are going to start any given game.
Being sent out on loan can help but it’s rarely the most ideal loan scenario. Being sent out to toiling clubs in the lower divisions of Scotland and England. Players rarely come back better for the experience. Callum McGregor bucked that trend but that was after Neil Lennon left and Ronny Deila wanted to give youth a chance. I have no doubt in my mind, Callum McGregor would not have made it at Celtic had Neil Lennon not left when he did.
There was the odd exception to the rule but in general, the Irishman isn’t keen on gambling with youth players. Ewan Henderson is a perfect example of this; Brendan Rodgers was bringing the lad on and giving him game time, this was almost immediately shut down by Neil when he came into the club and Ewan hasn’t had much of a sniff since.
We NEED to be a club who advertise ourselves a specific way to young talent. Come here, train, play and get yourself noticed. Right now, young players are coming here, training and hitting a brick wall. A lot of them will not be good enough, and I understand that too, however, the success rate as of late is low and the players leaving to seek better opportunities is growing.
If we can’t convince top young talent to come to Celtic before they cost an absolute fortune then we’re going to struggle as a club. There has to be a clear direction for the kids when they come in, how they can make the breakthrough and what they need to do.
Post-Brexit and Covid, the landscape of world football will look very different. We have to adjust and make youngsters confident that even if a Bayern or Manchester City come in, they are better served to stay at Celtic because there’s a big chance they can make it into the first team.
If we are to get a new manager in the summer, part of their remit has to be bringing through players from the youth team.