Dylan Reid and the worrying comparisons to Luca Connell and Jonathan Afolabi

If Celtic sign Dylan Reid from St Mirren it would in theory be a big move for the kid. The Scotland Under-17 international has broken through to the first team in Paisley and has clearly done enough to catch the eye of someone at Celtic as a result, but if and when he arrives here what is the plan?

On the one-hand I fully buy into the idea that recognising young Scottish talent early making our move early makes a lot of sense. After all, you only have to look to Aaron Hickey, Josh Doig and Lewis Ferguson to see if you leave it too late the fees asked for young talent with first team experience may be richer than we’d like to pay due to the level of competition.

Yet had any of these three players joined Celtic the chances are they’d have been first team squad players at least, in the case of Dylan Reid just what are we selling him?

Reid, we know isn’t a player the manager is dealing with. Postecoglou has already stated the lad is one for the B-Team environment and he’s not had much involvement -if any – in this deal. Not exactly a ringing endorsement for Reid – and it would justify alarm bells going off in the heads of anyone representing the player.

This would therefore be a move to a B-Team in the midst of a personnel shake-up under Stephen McManus and Darren O’Dea and one who plays in Scottish football’s fifth tier. Reid meanwhile already has first team experience with St Mirren, and as Paul Gillespie reported earlier on The Celtic Star , it looks like Buddies boss Stephen Robinson sees more opportunities in his team for the youngster this season.

In short, he has something tangible on offer at St Mirren but at Celtic we’re not offering that, and if we are, on recent evidence, it’s a disingenuous offer.

Luca Connell of Republic of Ireland U21 in action with Sion Spence of Wales U 21 during the International Friendly match between Wales U21 and Republic of Ireland U21 at Colliers Park on March 26, 2021 in Wrexham, Wales. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

If Reid joined Celtic now, he’d be passing the likes of Luca Connell and Jonathan Afolabi on the way. Both players arrived at Celtic with either top level experience, at English Championship level in the case of Connell, or as the hot-shot kid almost ready to take the EPL by storm, as Afolabi was portrayed as we nabbed him for cross-border compensation from Southampton. Despite that early promise it didn’t happen for these kids at Celtic and both arrived with arguably more experience under their belts than Reid, and arguably left without further career progression.

Morgan Boyes (L) and Eddy Jones (R) of Wales U21 battles for the ball with Jonathan Afolabi of Republic of Ireland . (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Celtic will of course point to the B-Team and no doubt portray it as a big success. Yet buying players for fees in excess of £100,000 seems strange when the B-Team don’t even have a league to play in that is confirmed to last beyond this season. And after a summer where we had to threaten Lowland League clubs and involve the SFA to mediate, as promises that are unlikely to come to fruition were made, it seems our B-Team’s league status is built on insecure foundations. Indeed, buying players like Reid for six figures smacks a little of ordering the three-piece suite for the living room only to raise your head and realise you haven’t got a roof on your new pad.

Dylan Reid may well be a young and talented player, but Celtic have a lot of youth level housekeeping to get in order before we start buying players for such an environment. We need a league to play in that offers long term protection for players to develop, and we need to establish pathways to the first team from there, something the likes of Ross Doohan, Karamoko Dembele, Scott Robertson and Ewen Henderson would evidence is a work in progress at best. Meanwhile Liam Morrison, Barry Hepburn and many others would possibly advise wasn’t even in place for 15- and 16-year-old kids coming through the ranks. When that’s the case are we really ready to buy up younger talent, and if we do are we making an honest pitch?

Reid as a defensive midfielder may well be a position within the B-Team that requires strengthening, a role that perhaps we don’t have covered, but a fee between £125,000 and £175,000 seems a substantial outlay to ensure we’re competitive in the Lowland League.

If, however we see him progressing through a mix of training with the first team and performing in the Lowland league while he learns the ways of Ange Postecoglou, what happens next season when perhaps he’s still not ready for a first team shirt and Celtic find the Lowland League have enough of false promises and vote against our continued participation in their competition?

Celtic have enough to be getting on with now in ensuring pathways for our young talent is communicated to them honestly and credibly, we then have to secure a playing environment that has long-term security.

We owe all of that to those who are coming through our ranks first and foremost, and once that’s established perhaps six figure fees for young talent emerging in Scotland and beyond makes some sense, but for now we seem to be getting a bit ahead of ourselves.

We have a ton of work to do, and bridges to build with our own, before we should be thinking of offering promises to external talent – commitments we’ve made in the recent past to others which we simply couldn’t honour.

Niall J

About Author

As a Bellshill Bhoy I was taken to my first Celtic game in the summer of 1987. It was Billy McNeill’s return to Celtic Park as manager and Celtic lost 5-1 to Arsenal . I thought I was a jinx, I think my Grandfather might have thought the same. It was the finest gift anyone ever gave me when he walked me through Parkhead's gates.

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