It’s getting closer now. As the minutes tick away to Jim White invading television screens all over the country with a ridiculous tie on to announce the last minute deadline day deals, Celtic fans are wondering if securing the services of Patrick Roberts for another season will make him the last player through the door until the New Year window kicks in.
With Rivaldo Coetzee having to sit tight in South Africa, at least for another six months following the discovery of his foot injury, it may well be that the club hope to get Boyata and Sviatchenko fit and back playing as soon as possible. That would seem more likely for Boyata with the Dane slipping down the pecking order in the defence last season. He’s not been playing but that doesn’t mean that there hasn’t been interest from other clubs. The FC Copenhagen manager, Ståle Solbakken reckons that the club were looking for too much money for the 25 year old after they had a £2.7million offer knocked back last week, saying that “the distance between our bid and their asking price was so great that there was no point dwelling on it.” I guess that’ll happen if you get knocked out of the Champions League by our old friends/foes, Qarabağ. What are Celtic asking for then if his version of events is true? £3.5m, £4m? Either figure would represent a decent return on a player signed for a touch over £2m but if there is no cover, then the club are probably right to want to hold onto him or demand top dollar. Despite the fact that Virgil touched down at John Lennon Airport on a flight from Bournemouth this afternoon, it’s pretty unlikely that the cut Celtic will receive from his sell on clause will land in the club’s bank account before the window slams shut. Mind you, there should still be enough money in there anyway for reinforcements, right?
The confirmation of the signing of our new number 7 yesterday has led to some reports that the club have now solved the need for someone else who can play up top. That may well be true but if you believe some of what you read, Brendan is still after a frontman.
The Berliner Kurier, unsurprisingly a daily newspaper in Berlin, ran a story last week, which is still available on their site about their number 14, Valentin Stocker entitled, “From the grandstand to the royal class?” The gist of the article is that the Swiss internationalist may have to move on as he wasn’t involved in Hertha’s first two competitive fixtures of the new season. You can make that three now. As you’d expect with most international players, his goal is to go to the World Cup in Russia next year and he realises that his chances will lessen without the possibility of first team football. He signed for Hertha three years ago from the Swiss Super League club, FC Basel where he’d been for over eight years. Although the Bundesliga side are open to selling him and the Swiss side would take him back in a heartbeat, Hertha want to recoup as much of the €4m that they spent on him. That’s fair enough but the trouble is that the Swiss side can’t afford to pay that much. Celtic certainly could, with or without Van Dijk money. Do they want to though? The Berliner Kurier would have you believe that it’s a straight choice between returning to his old club or making the move to Glasgow to play in the Champions League, hence the paper’s use of headline. Another slight issue might be though is that he’s not a striker.
He’s been deployed as a secondary striker previously but is mainly used as an attacking midfielder coming in off of the left hand side. Given that he’s left footed, you’d think that in Rodgers’ system, were he to sign, he might find himself on the right. A certain new signing might have something to say about that and that’s before you throw the likes of Forrest and Hayes into the mix. Those two can play on the left also but our top scorer is unlikely to be benched for any of them. If it’s true that he wants to play more first team football given his World Cup desire, is he potentially being looked at as someone who could come in as back up? As someone who’d be happy to play third fiddle to Dembélé and Griffiths but try and grab his opportunity should injuries to the two strikers persist? With his contract expiring in May, he’d have nothing to lose and may see the potential of Champions League football leading to more recognition in his homeland which may well seal him a spot on the plane next summer.
The fee which would equate to a touch over £3.7m is a lot for someone who would have to step up enormously in terms of goalscoring because surely another midfielder isn’t what the club need? That said, he’s got a good left foot, looks pacy and direct and can certainly hit a shot as well as take a mean free kick.
Twitter isn’t necessarily the best platform for believing a football rumour but it’s awash with stories and rumours about Stocker being linked with the club. 68 goals and 86 assists in 264 games for FC Basel means that he scored or assisted better than once every other game. He’s netted 9 times and added 12 assists for Hertha in 71 appearances. He didn’t make the squad for Hertha’s first game of the season, the DFB-Pokal, Germany’s premier Cup tournament away win against Hansa Rostock. For their first Bundesliga match of the season against VFB Stuttgart at home, he found that again, he didn’t make the bench. He would get a seat on it for Saturday’s 2-0 away defeat at Dortmund but didn’t see any game time. He’s 28 and has 6 goals and 35 caps for his country so there’s plenty of experience behind him. He would undoubtedly strengthen the squad but who doesn’t play instead of him? Armstrong, Rogic, McGregor? Would his potential signing see the end of Ryan Christie’s chances of making it at the club? Could he maybe, just maybe be a useful addition and someone that could play up top? Time will tell, the good thing is that we don’t need to wait long to find out.