If Ange Postecoglou could take anything from yesterday’s 3-0 defeat at Ibrox then perhaps it was that he was able to identify areas of the team where we can improve and add the necessary strength in depth. It has been widely believed that Celtic have a great squad and that is certainly true given the impact that substitutes have made throughout the campaign, but when a number of players are missing at the same time then a void is possibly evident. That said, one result doesn’t show too much conclusively and Ange isn’t a reactionary type of manager.
If we are to sign new recruits then we have no shortage of income. Season tickets will sell out and Champions League money awaits. Meanwhile, the Bhoys are set to jet off to Japan and South Korea for a pre-season tour that is sure to bring in considerable funds.
Nevertheless, the boss will want to offload any deadwood and make additional room for European squads and his wage budget. With that in mind, here’s five players that Ange may look to sell this summer:
1. Stephen Welsh
The young Scottish defender has had a mixed time of things at Celtic. He has performed well at times, and not so well at others. He is, however, a capable defender who at 23 years of age may now wish to be playing first team football on a more regular basis. He has made just six appearances this term and was previously the subject of interest from Udinese.
2. David Turnbull
A goalscoring midfielder who offers the rare quality of goals from long range, Turnbull is a useful option to deploy against teams sitting deep and denying space, when Celtic struggle to break opponents down. However, as Ange’s team are on course to break goalscoring records this season, such problems have rarely materialised. Turnbull was a regular starter at the beginning of Ange’s rein, but injury in the 2021/22 Premier Sports Cup final meant he fell out of the team and the signings of Matt O’Riley, Aaron Mooy and Reo Hatate have made it hard to get back in. He has made 35 appearances this season, but almost all of those have been from the bench meaning that he has accumulated 1,164 minutes of playing time – the equivalent of less than 13 full matches. At 23 years old, and having lost some years to injury, now might be the time that the player wishes to get more regular action, while Celtic may also wish to free up his wages.
3. Vasilis Barkas
After a nightmare debut season at Parkhead, Barkas was farmed out on loan to FC Utrecht. Reports in the Netherlands suggest he has been performing well, but there appears no way back for him at Celtic Park, given that the club have since moved to sign Joe Hart and Benjamin Siegrist. With a valuation of approximately £2.5m, Celtic will likely look to cut their losses and take what they can, while they still can.
4. Conor Hazard
Though a lifelong Celtic fan, the Irishman knows he is well down the pecking order these days. He lived the dream and made history with his saves in the Quadruple Treble winning Scottish Cup final during the covid season. However, he quickly lost his place in the team and was loaned to Helsinki with whom he won the 2022 Veikkausliiga, earned qualification to the Europa League and was named Goalkeeper of the Season in Finland. At 25, he knows he is a decent keeper with strong enough pedigree to play regular top flight football elsewhere. If he is to rank third choice, or perhaps below, then it is likely best for all parties that Hazard moves on.
5. James McCarthy
Another lifelong Celtic supporter, who has now achieved the dream and pulled on the Hoops. This would have delighted fans years ago, but the player has suffered awful injuries over the years and rarely features in squads, let alone matches. His only notable contribution this season has been winning a tackle against St Johnstone which allowed Bernabei to cross for Giakoumakis to score in the dying moments and rescue three points. At this late stage in his career, with a decent wage at Celtic – McCarthy may be happy to stay at Paradise and contribute in whatever small way he can. However, he is undoubtedly surplus to requirements in the team and could be moved on to release funds. The ball is very much in the player’s court on this one and it depends if a team comes in that he would be interested in joining, while taking a wage cut.
In addition to those five players, there has been much speculation about Liel Abada departing. However, the player himself rubbished that talk last week and stated that he was happy at Celtic. There is also the possibility that one of our star players could leave if clubs come in with an offer that we cannot refuse. Furthermore, there is an extensive list of players set to return from loan spells – many of whom will be moved on. The loan list includes: Barkas, Tobi Oluwayemi, Liam Scales, Osaze Urhoghide, Ewan Otoo, Adam Montgomery, Ismaila Soro, Liam Shaw, Yosuke Ideguchi, Johnny Kenny, Albian Ajeti, Mikey Johnston. It is likely that all of those players will move on, be that as free agents, transfers or on further loan spells; although, the latter may have one last chance at the club after impressing in Portugal and with the Ireland international set up.