James McCarthy has always had the feel of a player who would eventually end up at Celtic, so this could be the final chance for him to make that move.
He’s 30 years old so he doesn’t have many of his prime years left, but it’s easy to see him deciding to spend that time back in Scotland where he can challenge for silverware instead of sitting on the Crystal Palace bench.
He has played five times for Palace this season but he’s little more than a bit-part player, so it’s not surprising to see that HITC have linked him with a return to the Scottish Premiership.
At this point it’s suggested that Palace would be willing to let him go for around £4.5m so it would take a sizeable investment from Celtic, so the report indicates that they would need to sell someone first.
Olivier Ntcham is the prime candidate to move on after a lack of action himself this season, but he’s a talented player who could do well in the Premier League so it’s likely that there will be some interest in him.
It’s also suggested that McCarthy is very open to making the move to Celtic, so you do have to wonder if he’s being lined up as the likely successor to Scott Brown as the player who will play the defensive role in midfield.
This would likely have a knock-on effect for Ismail Soro who has started to impress when given the chance, but it would relegate him to third choice at best so he might need to look for a loan move until the summer.
The time has come for Celtic to actively seek an alternative to Brown so they already have someone in the team rather than panicking when he’s finally forced to retire, so McCarthy would be a perfectly logical choice.