After yesterday’s successful transfer dealings with Southampton and the very welcome return of Moi Elyounoussi, there were high hope indeed of Fraser Forster following suit. It appears those hopes have hit a stumbling block.
If reports in the press are to be believed then the opening salvo of the Fraser Forster deal to Celtic has resulted in what appears to be a blow to our goalkeeping plans, with only four weeks left to the start of the football season.
The noises coming from Southampton is that Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl wants to assess Fraser Forster, given the erratic form of his other two goalkeepers. Indeed the Southampton boss has indicated he wishes to push Forster up the pecking order and wants to see the player in action again. It’s also been reported that Fraser Forster is happy with that and wishes to fight for a jersey on the South Coast.
I’m fairly sure the Southampton manager has long since made up his mind on Fraser Forster, I doubt his mind would be in any way altered now. The error from his goalkeeper at the weekend was a foot fault. Fraser Fortser is not exactly renowned as the sweeper keeper that would allay those sort of goalkeeping fears for Hasenhuttl.
There is a more pressing concern for the Southampton manager when it comes to next season and from there Celtic and Southampton can scratch each other’s back.
Pierre Emil Hojbjerg is heading for pastures new and the Saints need a replacement. They have long coveted a Celtic midfielder in that regard. One who himself just last summer indicated Scottish football was not quite to his own liking.
So does it have to be the end of the story in Celtic’s pursuit of Fraser Forster or does our Chief Executive still have a card to play? One that could return Peter Lawwell back to the negotiating table with Olivier Ntcham’s registration in his briefcase. And from there the bargaining begins. The real stuff that is.
If not Celtic are back in the market for a goalkeeper and with it the unenviable position of having also parted company with Craig Gordon. Every club and agent has just added 25% to their asking price. It’s a question therefore that Lawwell needs to ask Southampton. Surely when it comes to Ntcham and Forster and Celtic and Southampton, there is clearly a deal that can still be done.
For Peter Lawwell, getting that Forster deal restarted could leave him with the possibility of nine players leaving Celtic and a wage bill reduced to counter the financial threat of the Covid 19, if both Maryan Shved and Ntcham did move on, with only two coming back to the club in the shape of Forster and Elyounoussi. Lawwell would even be able to spin that as a success, if he pulled off the Forster deal from the jaws of defeat.
Another Central defender on the cheap from cash strapped Aberdeen and a cut price deal for an attacking midfielder returning from injury at Motherwell, and Peter Lawwell could be looking like the Arthur Daley of the transfer window.
And you know what? If that’s how it plays out I’d take it. If we can just have it done and dusted by the time the season starts.
Ducking and diving to reduce outgoings I can fully understand, given the financial uncertainty. In fact I’d support all of those decisions. However, playing Russian roulette yet again, with what could be a huge source of much needed income from the Champions League would not marry with that prudent financial approach.
Fraser Forster is an essential part of Neil Lennon’s planning when it comes to European football and the quest for 10-in-a-row. While there is still a hand to play Celtic need to get back round the table with Southampton.
If Lenny has to make more with less, at least give him the time to be ready for the challenge this time around. And let’s test Southampton’s resolve on the Forster deal. If they want Ntcham and we know they do, let’s make him part of the deal.