With the gap between the end of the 2016/17 season and the start of the 2017/18 season so close together it makes sense to bolster the squad in January and allow for the team to bond, in order to avoid disasters in the opening rounds of Champions League qualification. Whilst Lincoln Red Imps faced a Celtic side that had played together relatively often bar perhaps the defence one could only imagine how Celtic might struggle to bed in big signings for those sort of early season games.
This is the reason why Celtic need to get any business done for the Champions League in this transfer window. Some in the media may point out that Celtic have a firm grip on the league and there is no European football for another 6/7 months but players like Dembélé will understand why Celtic is a good choice for them, and won’t be as blinkered as some. The fact that Eboue is leaving a team that was still fighting in the Europa League shows that he is looking further into his future than many others would.
As we have seen with our attempts to prize Filip Benkovic, Dinamo Zagreb’s replacement for Simunovic, away from them, trying to buy young quality players in January is no easy task. Seventeen million for a Croatian under 21 player! No thanks. Whilst Celtic are not in the situation that West Ham are in, with a dominant performance in the first half of the year, teams know they can ramp up the prices because they know clubs like West Ham have a rather pressing need. This results in the rather ridiculous prices that players go for nowadays which have no relationship to how much they are actually worth but just how desperate the buyer is.
On the other hand, the attempts of Celtic to offload players also seems to be hitting a rather familiar stumbling block. Teams only want to take the likes of Boyata and Ambrose on a loan basis to tide them over for the rest of the season. These players aren’t stars, won’t command massive paydays for Celtic and will most likely end up being stop-gaps for injury hit sides. If you were Anderlecht or one of the many championship teams with whom Ambrose has been linked, there seems no real reason to want to buy the likes of either defender.
In relation to Bitton, Celtic’s most used sub this season, his time could possibly be up with Celtic as a result of the purchase of Eboue. Espanyol could actually end up coming with a half-decent offer this time around for the Israeli as the club is flush with cash after being taken over by new Chinese owners. Celtic don’t really need to sell him though so we can expect another drawn out series of negotiations over the exact figure which could end up in Celtic’s coffers. It also may be the right time for a move for his young family, a point not often considered by the so-called experts.
Twitter has been awash with people suggesting that they would be happy to see Celtic just get rid of the “deadwood” this transfer window. Whilst this is true and most fans are delighted with the progress of the team at present, because of the reasons outlined above I for one would be very disappointed to see only one purchase this transfer window. This being said, quality over quantity is still the order of the day.
Kevin John Thomson