Celtic could be making a mistake selling David Turnbull

Is letting David Turnbull leave in this transfer window a wise option for Celtic? I have my doubts…

Celtic v Ross County – David Turnbull celebrates scoring the first goal of the game during the cinch Premiership match at Celtic Park, Saturday August 5, 2023. Photo Steve Welsh

As reported yesterday on The Celtic Star, there are strong rumours suggesting that Celtic have struck a deal with Cardiff City that will see David Turnbull head south permanently in a deal that will net Celtic £2m.

It seems that most fans aren’t too bothered about the thought of the Scotland international leaving, most even suggesting it’s a good deal with the club making £2m on a player who’s contract is up in the summer anyway. Personally I think it’s a rather risky move.

David Turnbull of Celtic reacts after scoring his team’s first goal during the Cinch Scottish Premiership match between Celtic FC and St. Mirren FC at Celtic Park on November 01, 2023. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

There is no doubting that David Turnbull is up against some fine players currently playing in Celtic’s midfield. I think almost all of us would agree that he is currently behind Callum McGregor, Matt O’Riley, Paulo Bernardo and  Reo Hatate in the pecking order.

The thing I worry about is what we do if any of these players get injured? In fact, that very scenario has already happened with Reo Hatate. The Japanese international, who has spent the vast amount of this season already in the physio room, has once again sustained another injury. Just yesterday he pulled up at the Asia Cup representing his country with what looks like a calf injury. How long he will be out for we don’t know but we will hopefully receive some good news on that front today.

With Tomoki Iwata already sidelined since December, and a strange silence surrounding his expected return date, who are we really left with? Unless you are counting development players it’s only really Odin Thiago Holm. Now the Norwegian certainly looks an exciting prospect but he is still very young and quite raw. It’s a bonus that the trio of McGregor, O’Riley and Bernardo can pretty much play any position in the midfield and that will certainly help but are we perhaps selling a player here for a quick buck when he may still have an important role to play this season?

Celtic v Greenock Morton –  David Turnbull celebrates with Kyogo Furuhashi after scoring  during the Scottish Cup fourth round match at Celtic Park on Saturday January 21, 2023. Photo Jane Barlow

Now in the long run it doesn’t look good for Turnbull at Celtic in terms of getting the game time that he wants, so perhaps he thinks it’s time to leave as he wants to play regular first team football. That is perfectly understandable and probably the right thing for Turnbull’s own career.

If he was to leave in the summer however he would of course be able to demand higher wages due to clubs not having to shell out a transfer fee, but in the end the player will obviously do whatever is best for him and rightly so. I know he gets quite a lot of flack but I have to say I like David Turnbull and would have been happy to see him sign a new contract at Celtic.

Many will disagree with me but I think he’s been more than decent during his time at Celtic. Even this season he’s popped up with seven goals, averaging almost a goal per game. Yes three of those were penalties but having seen how bad some of his teammates are from the spot maybe having a decent penalty taker is no bad thing!

I agree that he lacks pace and can be a bit ponderous on the ball and is very one footed but his eye for a goal certainly makes up for that, especially with us often shouting about players to hit one from distance once in a while when teams play a low block against us. I think it’s been on the European stage where his frailties have most often been shown up, somewhere that playing the ball quickly is vital.

Celtic v Ross County – David Turnbull scores our third goal of the game during the cinch Premiership match at Celtic Park, Saturday August 5, 2023. Photo Steve Welsh

The way I look at it however is are we going to get someone better to replace him? In my mind no we aren’t. We certainly won’t be bringing in another midfielder this window, at this stage we will be lucky to bring in anyone at all. Come the summer however are we going to get a player as good as Turnbull to come in knowing they will spend most of their time on the bench?

Not a chance. I think that’s the point. It’s hard to find good squad players who accept they will have limited playing time to come to the club. He was certainly a decent asset to bring off the bench especially when we needed a goal.

Celtic v Aberdeen – David Turnbull poses with the trophy after the cinch Premiership match at Celtic Park, Saturday May 27, 2023. Photo Andrew Milligan

Celtic may think letting Turnbull leave and netting £2m for him is a shrewd piece of business for the money men but a few injuries in midfield and we could be in trouble. In what looks like a title race that will go down to the wire, a late David Turnbull goal in a game where we are struggling to score could make all the difference.

Losing out on £2m that will never be re-invested in the squad and only ever end up in the Celtic PLC directors bonus pay-packets won’t seem like a bad deal after all. Just my opinion.

Conall McGinty


About Author

Hailing from Cushendall in the North of Ireland my formative years were spent watching Celtic during our barren spell through the 90's which meant I have appreciated our recent trophy-laden spell even more. Favourite matches home and away I've attended has to be beating Man Utd 1-0 at Celtic Park and being with my 2 brothers watching us beat Lazio 2-1 in Rome. Best away day experience? Has to be Munich with friends from Coatbridge...what a few days!


  1. Explain the “directors bonus pay packets”. this lazy comment seems to be thrown around regularly. the directors receive £40k per year plus travel expenses. thats it. they do not receive bonuses. they do not receive dividends – celtic has never paid an ordinary share dividend. so this constant reference to the directors looking out for themselves and their earnings is nonsense. i agree we should be looking to spend the huge pile of cash we have but lets not create false stories about why were not. either something is up with brendan and they do not want to spend cash on his signings when hes not going to stick around or quite simply they cannot find suitable players (which is a whole different issue on the recruitment side).

  2. glad turnbull’s going-far too slow and ponderous.no conviction-JF and MJ-remove immediately from the wage bill and,hopefully,mccarhty too (stealing wages from the club he purports to love,how many miilions is never enough?poor moral fibre displayed here by the avaricious one.oh, Alistair Johnston on pens please,i have a hunch he’ll be successful.

    • You can’t blame McCarthy he accepted a contract offer that was presented to him that should never have been. If no one is looking to take him from Celtic it’s up to Celtic to strike a deal to get him of the wage bill. I share your opinion on Turnbull he takes the tempo out of the game every time when he gets on as demonstrated on Saturday woeful. £2m is a good deal for someone who is out of contract at the end of the season.

      • yes,of course mccarthy is (legally) within his rights to’ sit-tight’ and wring every last penny out the club.but,morally?like i said,just HOW MANY millions do these people need to live a comfortable life

    • If he does go and we don’t get a replacement or left back , what is mini me lawwell doing and is he up for the job

  3. I agree with Conal on everything he said bar the one footed slur , he’s far more two footed that most at the club and has scored with both plenty , and that’s the deal breaker for me, he SCORES GOALS , he may be slow but id rather have a slow player who knows how to find the net than a fast no-mark , this passion for getting players out the door baffles me (apart from McCarthy ) what good does it really do , free up wages? we don’t know what’s round the corner and at least if they are here they have the chance to contribute and they just might be the difference between winning an losing the league . Hail hail .