Depending on which country you live in, you’ll come across all kinds of different Celtic rumours in your local or national media. Players that you might have never heard of are suddenly on your radar, and the YouTube hits increase immediately as you check out the look of a player who might be the next to walk through Parkhead’s gates. At least twice a year, the support are divided. The transfer windows are either a failure for some or a success for others. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion, nothing seems to provoke more debate within the support about who should go, who should stay, and who should come in.
January is generally acknowledged as the more difficult window in which to attract players, but for Celtic, if you’re gearing up for trying to get into the Champions League, don’t you need time for new players to bed in? It’s a difficult month and some previous recruits have been more successful than others. Compper has been told he’s free to find another club, whilst Hendry might stay now given the injury to Benkovic. Morgan to Sunderland on loan is done. Aberdeen have been talked about heavily in connection as the closure of the window draws closer. They’ve been offered either of the latter named two on loan, as rules stipulate that they can only have one player from another SPFL club. Has Jonny Hayes on a permanent deal been thrown into the mix as part of a permanent deal for Scott McKenna given Morgan has decided that Sunderland is preferable to Aberdeen? They would need to find a replacement so that deal would look dead in the water now. The manager has already said that some wingers will leave this summer, so you’d imagine that Hayes would be one of them. It would make sense, especially when the left-footed, Ukrainian capped winger Maryan Shved rocks up at Celtic Park in the summer. The deal is done, with him set to go out on loan or back to current club, Karpaty Lviv. No point in having a million and one wingers at the club just now, right? Shved spent some time with Sevilla and turned down Valencia to go there, but it didn’t work out in Spain and so he returned to Lviv. 14 goals in 35 games last season is a decent return, can the diminutive winger challenge Forrest for a starting berth next season?
Vakoun Issouf Bayo has been vocal about helping his mate, Eboue Kouassi, a previous January signing, to push on with his career at Celtic. Could he be like a new signing or should he be one to be shipped out now that the captain has decided to stick about?
Loan signings can be hit or miss, but it looks like Burke and Weah can help the push towards the eighth title. Loan deals aren’t ideal for all of us, but if the players involved help us achieve what we all want, then what’s the problem?
So, who else?
Strikers, Josh Maja, Vincent Janssen and Fran Sol were linked for a long time but it seems the club were priced out of deals for all three and plumped for Bayo instead.
Virgil Van Dijk is widely regarded as the best defender in the world for a team that sits 5 points clear at the top of the EPL. Clearly, Celtic have done okay from the initial deal and the subsequent sale to Liverpool financially, so why wouldn’t Scottish eyes turn to the club we bought him from, FC Groningen? Bosnian centre-back, Samir Memisevic has been heavily linked in Holland and it doesn’t hurt that he shares an agent with a number of players already at Celtic Park. With Benkovic likely to head back south and Boyata to go, a pre-contract could be agreed before close of play on Thursday. Doesn’t it make sense to throw some Euros at them now? His team-mate Ritsu Doan has apparently also caught the eye of Lee Congerton. The Green Brigade might not like it, but 20-year-old Doan seems like a project. According to reports in Holland, he was more than deserving of his place on the initial Golden Boy shortlist alongside Kylian Mbappe and eventual winner Matthijs de Ligt. That deal would be one that looks unlikely, and although talented, he’s a winger and attacking midfielder that would cost in the region of £5m. Not what’s needed, given that he’s contracted until 2021, and especially with Rogic returning.
Middle to front looks okay, so it makes sense to most of us that defence is where we need to be looking. Dare we mention the right-back position? Have you ever read Gazeta Wyborcza? Me neither, until recently. One of the leading publications in Poland reckons that Celtic have made a bid for Lech Poznan’s Robert Gumny. An U-21 international, he can play left-back too. He was close to a move to old foes Borussia Mönchengladbach last year but has just recovered from a serious knee injury. Too much of a risk? With deals looking dead for Timothy Castagne, another who shares an agent with Memisevic, and Omar Elabdellaoui, the Olympiacos right-back, where do we look next? The scouting department get slated regularly and with Southampton reportedly close to a deal for the Norwegian right back, it would seem at least one club are getting the benefit of it.
There’s a Mexican daily newspaper called the Diario Record that reckons Celtic have been following Edson Álvarez, the CF América centre-back after Celtic scouts spotted him at the World Cup in Russia. I know how similar that sounds to a rag back home, so I apologise. He’s already been capped 20 times by Mexico at the age of 21 and can step into midfield also. Worth a punt at £3.5m for a player that’s been likened to Van Dijk, and who’s been said to be a very strong technical player with a good aerial game? Alvarez is well established in his home country and started all four of Mexico’s games in Russia. It’s been said also that he posseses that extra second to make good choices about where to play a pass, whether it’s within a back three or a back four. Could he be someone that steps further forward when we lose midfielders in the summer? He’s been described as “one of the Mexican players with a great present and a very prominent future.” It all sounds promising if a deal can be done.
Jean-Kevin Duverne, the centre-back from Lens, is a name that won’t go away, although he’s another who’s spent most of the season injured. Another Compper, a waste of £1m?
A loan deal for Borussia Dortmund right-back Jeremy Toljan has been mooted, and the manager has said that he’s held talks with a couple of players today. A deal for the defender who’s been capped 18 time for the German U21s’ would seem to be a good bit of business with Dortmund having shelled out €7m to get him from Hoffenheim 18 months ago.
How about closer to home and tapping into the existing relationship with Manchester City? Their central defender, Tosin Adarabioyo, who’s currently on loan at West Brom, is set to be recalled because they’re looking to give him more minutes at a different club. Whilst he’s played in 20 of WBA’s 28 games, apparently they feel he’d be better served elsewhere. Glasgow, the Lawwell connection? He’s been linked more than once, so it wouldn’t be a massive surprise. Turns out that he’s rather handy at right back too.
If you were in charge, who comes, who goes and who stays? Will it be another window of disappointment? Not long until we find out.