With less than a week to go until the end of the transfer window, the anxiety and curiosity amongst some Celtic fans about who else might come in is almost palpable. Earlier in the window, Jonny Hayes made the move south from Pittodrie for a decent chunk of change with Ryan Christie going the other way on loan. Kundai Benyu was next through the door, signing on from Ipswich. Despite being retained as a registered player on the list submitted to the EFL, as a player who is under the age of 24, and whose current contract expired on 30th June 2017 with a new offer being made, Benyu decided to move north. He’d be followed by Olivier Ntcham for £4.5m, the highest transfer fee paid by the club since the signing of the captain a decade ago.
It’s fair to say that in Deila’s last summer window, the club were more active, certainly in terms of the numbers that came in. First in through the door was Dedryck Boyata from Manchester City for a fee anywhere in the region of between £1.5m to £1.8m, depending on who you believe. A compensation fee was enough to get Saidy Janko from Manchester United just under a month later. Another £1.75m would be spent in July with Bailly rocking up from Oud-Heverlee Leuven in Belgium, no me neither, and Nadir Çiftçi being another player who decided to swap Tannadice for Celtic Park. They’d be followed in August by Scott Allan for £275k plus Henderson on loan, Tyler Blackett on loan from Manchester United, Ryan Christie for £500k before Jozo Šimunović swapped Zagreb for Glasgow with £3m changing hands.
No one is suggesting that the club should buy eight players in total this window, especially given that of the eight names above, only Jozo is still at the club and available to be picked on a week to week basis. Christie might come back, whilst you’d imagine that Allan and Çiftçi probably won’t.
The mood of the fans would seem to be that the club are lacking at least one central defender, if not two, regardless of the possible arrival of Rivaldo Coetzee. With reports coming from South Africa suggesting that he’s failed a medical due to a long standing foot problem, you’d have to think that Lee Congerton and his team will be working overtime to get in other central defenders that they’ve looked at over the last little while. Common sense would dictate that the midfield is strong enough to cope with the demands of domestic and European football before the next window in January. The gaffer has been on record though as saying that he’s potentially looking at a new striker, given the injury issues with Moussa Dembélé and to a lesser extent, Leigh Griffiths.
The club have been linked with a number of strikers. Danny Ings, Luka Đorđević, Viktor Fischer, Tammy Abraham, Suk Hyun-Jun and others, take your pick. Clearly some of those are now at other clubs but it wouldn’t be the worst idea for another frontman to come in.
Despite those positions getting the most focus, at least amongst the fans and in the media, do the club need to be looking at another position within the starting XI as a matter of urgency?
It might seem churlish, especially as the goal conceded in the first half today to St Johnstone was only the second domestic goal to go past Craig Gordon this season but do the club need a better quality of goalkeeper? The man in charge of the gloves has to take the blame for that goal today and whilst he’s performed well on many occasions for the club, is his form questionable at best? No one doubts his ability as a shot stopper but is his decision making questionable? He’s a fan of charging out of goal to try and block an oncoming attacker but has been lucky to avoid a red card on more than one occasion. He was dropped for Dorus De Vries before the Aberdeen game in August of last season after a series of mistakes. His performance against Hapoel Be’er Sheva in the Champions League play-off aggregate win last season was put under intense scrutiny, with both goals for the home side coming after goalkeeping errors. Does he need dropped again and has De Vries shown enough when he’s played, to fill you with confidence? The Champions League campaign will be difficult enough without a goalkeeper who could be suffering from a crisis of confidence. His kicking distribution is said to be much better than what it once was, and whilst that may be true, given how bad it was before, is that much of an upgrade? If you’ve ever sat in Celtic Park at half time when Forster was at the club, the difference in kicking ability between the two is remarkable. Stevie Woods would cross the ball in, Fraser would come and collect it and then ping it out to him, almost into his arms or feet every single time. Okay, the club aren’t about to get Forster back but is it time for a change? Who is available, who is gettable and who could we afford?
Ex Manchester United keeper, Anders Lindegaard is available on a free. Still only 33, is he worth inviting to Lennoxtown, at least on a trial basis initially? Joel Robles has lost his place at Everton with the arrival of Jordan Pickford. If your club shell out £25m, rising to £30m on someone to play in your specialist position, then chances are that opportunities to play frequently might be limited. Robles is out of contract at the end of June in 2018. Michel Vorm might be the one guy that would make most sense, given that he’s played under the gaffer before. With his contract expiring in June of next year, he could be persuaded to swap London for Glasgow surely? With Tottenham having signed Paulo Gazzaniga from Southampton on a five year deal just a few days ago, will the Dutchman be thinking that he should be playing every week and that he might need to do it elsewhere? Good with the ball at his feet? Check. Good shot stopper? Check. Good with cross balls? Check.
Tim Krul can’t get a game for Newcastle but is that down to how good a keeper he is or is there an issue with Benitez? Either way, his contract expires on the same day as Vorm’s and Robles’, and so would be available for a reasonably low fee. If the club go ahead and sign him, feel free to get him to go with his first name on the back of his top, along with any related Celtic number. You’re welcoming marketing department, you’re welcome.
Some names might be more out of reach. If Gianluigi Buffon misses the Celtic atmosphere that much, get his agent on the blower. Reina, Casillas, Caballero at Chelsea, López at Espanyol, Demirel at Fenerbahçe, the list goes on.
It’s easy to have a knee jerk reaction after nearly losing the unbeaten domestic record but it wasn’t just today that Gordon has made a mistake. For all of the bad press that has come the way of the defence, they’ve helped him out more than once. Don’t just take the word of someone who writes about the club purely for the love of it, Chris Sutton has been beating this drum for months now. He thinks that Gordon should be replaced at least by next season. Could that be a season too late?