As the season concludes and the summer approaches, the thoughts of all football fans move towards the upcoming transfer window. Due to the lengthy break in football due to the Covid-19 pandemic, fans have spent more time dwelling on potential transfers due to a lack of activity on the pitch.
Another player who has been linked to the club is Hearts’ teenage full-back, Aaron Hickey.
Celtic have not dipped as regularly into the Scottish market as they perhaps used to. However, it could be worth pondering some of Scotland’s top assets that are not already at Celtic Park. This article will provide analysis on players in Scotland that have been linked to Celtic or indeed any move to bigger clubs:
The youngster came through the youth set-up at Celtic before leaving heading to Hearts in 2018 with the idea of earning more game time. At the time, Kieran Tierney was Celtic’s main man at left-back and with a generally strong, young squad, Hickey made the call to seek a different route to the top. His decision paid dividends as the teenager found himself in the Hearts first team by the end of the 2018-19 season, which included 90 minutes in the Scottish Cup final against Celtic. Since then, Hickey has been a regular for Hearts under both Craig Levein and Daniel Stendel.
In what has been an unimaginably horrific season for Hearts which has concluded with relegation to the Championship, Hickey has been a rare positive for the Jambos. However, is he a player Celtic should be going for this window? The past season has proved that Hickey is still understandably raw and has a bit of growing to do. At times, he has found himself exposed against the top teams in the league. Furthermore, as a right-footed left-back, he may not necessarily suit Celtic’s recently successful 3-5-2 formation. However, Hickey has proven himself versatile and his footballing future is not necessarily restricted to left-back nor indeed full-back. At the age of just 17, Hickey has gained far more experience than most footballers his age and undoubtedly learned countless lessons, as he will continue to do regardless of where the next steps of his career take place. Hearts are in a very bad place and if Celtic are able to get a 17-year-old player with a season’s worth of experience in the top flight of Scottish football then it is absolutely a transfer that would make sense.
Last year Celtic were involved in one of the most unique transfer stories in their history. The absolute rollercoaster of a story that so nearly saw the Motherwell youngster head to Parkhead will not soon be forgotten by those who followed it. In what seemed to take an eternity, Celtic finally convinced Turnbull to join the club over Norwich after a ridiculous amount of back and forth. Pictures had been leaked of Turnbull in a Celtic top at Parkhead and although the deal had not yet officially been announced, it seemed the most sure-thing transfer of the summer. Alas, in the cruellest of manners, the transfer fell through as an issue with Turnbull’s knee came up in his medical. Since then, Celtic will have been keeping an eye on the youngster and it is no secret that Neil Lennon will still want the player to become a Celt. However, is it the right time for Celtic to make their move? Until last summer Turnbull looked set to be one of the most exciting young Scottish players in a long time. The midfielder was scoring screamer after screamer, changing Motherwell’s dynamic towards the successful, attacking side we have seen this season. Turnbull of course, has only appeared in a handful of games this season as he has eased his way back from injury and that recovery has now been intervened by the current pause in football. However, speaking to Open Goal, the attacker claimed that the current Lockdown of Scottish football could be beneficial to him. The youngster was due to have pins taken out his knee at the end of the season. However, with the abrupt end to the season in March, the process has been sped up and Turnbull will now be looking towards making a full recovery as fast as possible. Based on his interview on Open Goal, it is apparent that Turnbull would still very much be keen on a move to Celtic and we know Celtic are interested. The question is if Celtic are willing to risk spending money (which will be harder to come by due to the current situation) on a player that has been forced to spend so much time on the side-lines. On the other hand, there is a serious danger of Celtic pussy-footing around once again and not completing an obviously good deal quickly enough as we have seen over the years with Steven Fletcher, James McCarthy and John McGinn.
Scott McKenna’s is a name that has been linked with Celtic for a while longer than those previously mentioned. Now at the age of 23, it is becoming increasingly unlikely that Celtic would move for the Scot. However, it would be foolish to completely rule out a move for the centre-back. McKenna has been a central part of a stable Aberdeen side for three full seasons now. Throughout that time, he has established himself as Aberdeen’s main defender, a leader on the park and his worked his way into the Scotland starting XI. The Dons rate McKenna very highly due to his commanding presence and his ability to burst forward from the back, often contributing with goals. His form has often led to interest from other clubs including Celtic and English championship sides such as Stoke City who had a bid in the region of £4-5 million rejected last year.
His profile suggests that he could be a perfect signing for Celtic. However, as many Celtic fans will say when watching the defender, he may just not be at that level. While McKenna may be capable of strong performances, we at Celtic have witnessed him crumble in games against the Hoops. This season alone we have witnessed the centre-half suffer seriously under-par performances – in which you could draw references to Odsonne Edouard’s goal at Pittodrie in October and Callum McGregor’s in February. Furthermore, for what Celtic would be getting, Aberdeen’s asking price of between £6-10 million seems ludicrous. However, if Celtic could cut a decent deal for McKenna, could he be a worthwhile addition? A left-sided centre-half helped out by Julien and (hopefully) Ajer could be a match made in heaven.
For a few seasons now, Celtic have been linked with Lawrence Shankland during his time at both Ayr United and Dundee United. The former Aberdeen youngster has been scoring goals for fun in the championship for years and it has become clear that now is his time to step up a level. Dundee United will be playing in the top-flight next season and so Shankland will get his chance to show he can make the step up. However, is he Celtic quality? Most of the Parkhead faithful will tell you no. Similarly to McKenna, Shankland’s age is something that must be addressed. Despite his outstanding record in the Championship, it must be asked how he has not jumped up to a higher level yet by the age of 24. The striker is just a couple of years away from his prime and, truthfully, he has barely scratched the surface of Scottish football. A potential move to Celtic Park has never seemed to go away in the last two years. It does not seem like a move that will ever happen. However, at the very least, Celtic should wait and see how Shankland fairs in the top flight with Dundee United, should he opt to remain at Tannadice. It has been well-documented that Shankland grew up a Rangers fan, therefore a link to Ibrox has also inevitably arose. However, it would seem extremely unlikely that any Celtic fans would be quaking in their boots if their Glasgow rivals were to capture Shankland this summer.
The Hibernian winger was only recently linked with Celtic. Having worked with Neil Lennon previously at Hibs, it seemed like a plausible deal, regardless of what any fans thought about it. Although born in Aberdeen, the 27 year-old has started to appear for the Australia national side. Under Lennon, Boyle worked his way up to become a central figure in Hibs rise back to the top level of Scottish football. The midfielder has scored 28 goals in 131 games making him a real fans favourite at Easter Road. In the last few seasons, Boyle has been hampered by injuries. While Hibs suffered a horrendous start to the 2019-20 season, Boyle’s return from injury was a major factor in the Edinburgh side turning their season around. Many fans have suggested that Boyle would be an ideal back-up for James Forrest. There is no doubt that Forrest is indeed a player who needs competition. The winger is easily one of the best players at the club. However, with Celtic competing in up to 70 fixtures a season, Forrest’s form tends to dip with an excess of playing time. Perhaps the addition of Boyle on the cheap could benefit Forrest as the Australian international could feature in the slightly easier, more low-profile league games. On the other hand, some names linked from outside Scottish football could potentially provide a higher level of quality.
These are just a handful of the names linked with Celtic that play in Scotland. Talks of Liam Donnelly, Lewis Ferguson and Lyndon Dykes have also surfaced in recent months. Most of the time, these rumours end up being pure speculation. However, time will tell if we are to see any of these players in green and white.
It is possible that list has conveyed that Celtic should be looking to do more business with Scottish clubs, having missed out on several gems in the past as already mentioned. On the other hand, it may have reminded us why Celtic do so much work scouting much further afield, season after season.
What are your thoughts? Would you take any of the aforementioned players at Paradise? Are their any other players in Scotland that you would take at the club?