‘Give Celtic a Director of Football, Mr Lawwell and Neil Lennon will deliver,’ Niall J

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I think you could call this the ‘what might have been’ transfer window.

It’s a welcome turnaround in playing staff and it looks a decent balance on paper between first team ready players and young ‘project’ type players, we believe can push the current squad. But in terms of how it was structured, managed and supported it was lacking in planning. We got there, though even at the end it was a rush job. That it was so badly planned has left us wondering what might have been.

In total we lost 13 first team squad players from the end of last season. Nine of those were ours.

Kieran Tierney, defender (£25million Arsenal), Dedryck Boyata, defender (Hertha Berlin); Mikeal Lustig, defender (Gent); Scott Allan, midfielder (Hibernian); Christian Gamboa, defender (Bochum); Marvin Compper, defender (Duisburg); Dorus de Vries, goalkeeper (retired); Emilio Izaguirre, defender; Youssouf Mulumbu, midfielder.

And four were loans returned to parent clubs. (Timothy Weah, forward (Paris St-Germain); Filip Benkovic, defender (Leicester City); Jeremy Toljan, defender (Borussia Dortmund); Oliver Burke, forward (West Bromwich Albion).

We have also loaned out a further 10 players all at varying stages of their development,

Kundai Benyu, midfielder (Helsingborg); Anthony Ralston, defender (St Johnstone); Ewan Henderson, midfielder (Ross County); Ross Doohan, goalkeeper (Ayr United); Stephen Welsh, defender (Greenock Morton); Andrew Gutman, defender (Charlotte Independence); Manny Perez, defender (North Carolina); Jack Aitchison, forward (Forrest Green Rovers); Robbie Deas, defender (Alloa Athletic); Daniel Church, defender (East Fife).

And we’ve moved on five permanently who we’ve deemed now aren’t going to make the grade. Dylan Forrest, midfielder (Hamilton Academical); Wallace Duffy, defender (Dundee); PJ Crossan, forward (Dumbarton); Regan Hendry, midfielder (Raith Rovers); Reece Willison, goalkeeper (Airdrieonians);

28 player then have departed in some shape or form and for a variety of reasons.

By my reckoning we’ve brought in seven first team players. Four permanent signings in Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo, defender (Rapid Vienna, undisclosed); Christopher Jullien, defender (Toulouse, undisclosed); Hatem Abd Elhamed, defender (Hapoel Be’er Sheva, £1.3m); Greg Taylor, defender (Kilmarnock, undisclosed) and three who are on loan, Fraser Forster, goalkeeper (Southampton); Moritz Bauer, defender (Stoke City); Mohamed Elyounoussi, midfielder (Southampton).

We’ve brought in a further seven ‘project’ type players who are all likely to train with the first team squad or thereabouts and all will be tried out at various times to see where they stand regarding a route to the team. Luca Connell, midfielder (Bolton Wanderers, £350k); Tobi Oluwayemi, goalkeeper (Tottenham Hotspur, undisclosed); Leo Hjelde, defender (Rosenborg, undisclosed); Jeremie Frimpong, defender (Manchester City, undisclosed); Lee O’Connor, defender (Manchester United, undisclosed); Jonathan Afolabi, forward (Southampton); Liam Burt, midfielder (the Rangers).

So 14 players in on permanent or loan deals for the season ahead. Leaving us with 14 less players on the books than last season. It’s a definite streamlining of the squad both financially in terms of wages and in the numbers employed.

We’ve spent roughly 50%, possibly more of the Tierney transfer fund on permanent signings. Neil Lennon has the trimmed squad he wanted and no complaints there. Last season’s squad was bloated and unbalanced. It may well be that has now been addressed, time will reveal all regarding that.

Peter Lawwell has the massively reduced wage bill he craved and there is also room for more. We clearly have players who remain, be it in Neil’s mind or Peter’s that are surplus to requirements.

Scott Sinclair, Jack Hendry, Eboue Kouassi and Calvin Miler. There is also argument that either Scott Bain or possibly Craig Gordon would be classed as a keeper too many on the books (I think we have 6 in total). With the arrival of Fraser Forster we are unlikely to wish to pay the wages of three first team goalkeepers.


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About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

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