What do Roberto Baggio, Steve McManaman, Gary McAllister, Sol Campbell, Jay-Jay Okocha, Esteban Cambiasso, Raúl, Andrea Pirlo, Miroslav Klose, Paul Pogba, Robert Lewandowski, Demba Ba, Denis Law, Mathieu Flamini, Ruud Gullit, Sami Khedira, Jürgen Klinsmann, Gianluca Vialli, James Milner and a certain Henrik Larsson have in common? Keep reading.
Depending on your point of view, the summer transfer window will either have been a success or an unmitigated disaster. Hayes might look like he’s not clicked into gear as yet but there is plenty of time for him and you’d imagine that Paddy returning for another season will make all of the wingers up their game. Whilst Benyu might ultimately be one for the future, he’s shown in flashes that he can play and should be a useful addition as the club chase silverware on 4 fronts. Yes, 4, you read that right, it’s okay to dream surely? Olivier Ntcham looks like a class act and everyone already knows what the new number 7 can bring to the side. Fans could well see a glimpse of Odsonne Édouard tomorrow night, either off of the bench or from the start and it’s clear that the manager likes what he sees in the young Frenchman.
Undoubtedly, the only disappointment about the window was that the club weren’t able to add a central defender, a position that many feel Celtic should have been strengthening in. The new Mamelodi Sundowns number 3, Rivaldo Coetzee and his dodgy foot will be staying in South Africa for the time being. Only time will tell whether or not the club will resurrect a bid for the defender in January or next summer.
Despite the window being closed, there is obviously the option of bringing in players immediately who are without a club or contract. Whilst the manager, his staff and scouting team will also be looking to add players in the summer and quality Bosman additions would be good, no one that comes in now will be eligible to play in the Champions League group stage this season. Should the team get past 2 out of Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain or Anderlecht and make the knockout stages, then Celtic just like any other club in the last 16, can register up to 3 new players. The deadline for submission to UEFA of any new players for beyond the groups is midnight on February 1st. Perhaps a scenario that is more likely is that Celtic could still be involved in Europe after Christmas via the Europa League. The same signing deadline applies and a player from the quota of 3, who has played in UEFA competition group stage matches for another club in the season can also be registered, as long as that he’s has not taken part in the competition for another club, or played for another club that is currently in the same tournament. So, basically for any club that were knocked out in the group stages or a club that’s dropped down from the Champions League.
If the club are active in the market between now and then, whether that’s in January or not, 1 or more players from the above quota of 3 who have played in only in the first, second or third qualifying round or play-offs of the Champions League or Europa League for another club are also allowed to be added to the squad list. So, plenty of scope to get a new defender in if European progress is achieved. Money can clearly be spent in January but who is available now on a free and could enhance the squad?
Whilst the manager has said that he wants to add quality rather than quantity, is there an argument for bringing in someone who’s experienced and who could help out? How high is the level of quality of defender available now and is it worth any of them coming in on trial at least so that the manager can take a closer look?
Chico Flores, once of Swansea has just seen his contract expire. He’s still only 30 but has most recently been playing in the Qatar Stars League. Everyone has witnessed first hand the quality of someone with football experience coming to Scotland from that league so would he be a non starter due to not playing at a high enough level recently? Paulinho has just signed for Barcelona after a spell in China with Guangzhou Evergrande so maybe the perceived quality of league shouldn’t be the standard?
Signed by Harry Redknapp in 2009 for over £8m, Sébastien Bassong has been playing for Watford and Norwich since Spurs decided to cut their losses 3 years later. He’s another French player who has come through the Clairefontaine Academy so there’s clearly a player in there. If his attitude is right, could he be someone who follows Boyata’s example and works hard to try and get into the first team and stay there?
As recently as June, the club were being linked with a move for the 35 times capped Swiss international, Reto Ziegler. He was part of the Swiss 2010 World Cup squad and played as they beat Spain 1-0. He’s got a decent pedigree of ex clubs including Spurs, Sampdoria, Juventus, Fenerbahçe and Lokomotiv Moscow. He only left Spurs when they signed Gareth Bale and is comfortable playing on the left side of centre half.
How about a full international who can play anywhere across the back line and is still only 28? Aykut Demir is available on a free after leaving Trabzonspor and has dual Turkish/Dutch nationality. At over 6 feet and with nearly 300 club appearances under his belt, he could do a job, at least in the short term assuming that the injury issues at the club persist. You’d have to imagine that dangling the offer of a longer contract should he perform well, would make him interested in pulling on the hoops.
Back in the summer of 2013, reports suggested that the club were looking to sign a young centre back with the opportunity to give him a platform to perform domestically and in Europe and then perhaps move on to the riches of the English Premier League. The name at the top of Neil Lennon’s apparent wishlist was a guy called Cédric Mongongu, a Congolese international central defender. Celtic were also said to be keen on a young Dutchman by the name of Virgil van Dijk but Mongongu was their preferred option. He’d eventually leave his club at the time, Évian to join Eskisehirspor in Turkey, whilst Celtic would go onto sign Virgil. Whatever happened to him? A move for Mongongu, a right sided player who can also play right back and as a holding midfielder, especially as the squad number 27 has just become available, would be a no brainer. Wouldn’t it?
The list goes on, there are plenty of players out there who will be waiting on a call from a club.
The players at the top have all moved between clubs at some point in their respective careers on a free transfer. Sure, some moves won’t work out but all of those did. Do the club sit tight until January or use the time between now and then to get someone in who can get used to the way that the manager wants to play?