Yet another failed transfer to sort things out at the back for Celtic this window, and it signifies that the pulling power the club had simply a few years ago may just be dwindling.
After missing out on Mark McKenzie, a 21-year-old centre-back from Philadelphia Union who had been heavily linked with a move to Celtic Park since October, Celtic reportedly turned their attentions to ex-Hoop Filip Benkovic, but again, that fell flat.
I for one still can’t believe that Celtic aren’t trying to fix the defensive leak which is the main reason for the club’s demise this season. Duffy? Awful. Jullien? Injured until the end of the season. Are we really going to surpass these problems until the end of the season and sink without trace?
In the end, it was interesting to hear what McKenzie said about Genk in his move there; he gave a typical new signing ‘run-of-the-mill’ answer, but if I was a Genk supporter I’d be particularly annoyed by what their new signing was quoted as saying.
“There was interest elsewhere, but when I heard that Genk was interested, I was immediately enthusiastic. It’s a club that makes players better and then sells them to larger clubs. I looked at their history and they develop and sell players. They take them on to the next level and that was exciting for me”, McKenzie said, as reported by The Daily Record.
What particularly stood out to me in this quote was: “It’s a club that makes players better and then sells them to larger clubs. I looked at their history and they develop and sell players.”
Pardon me if I’m wrong, but haven’t Celtic got one of the best developed CV’s on the continent when it comes to letting players treat the club as a stepping stone? Does this mean that Celtic’s influence in terms of being a stepping stone for players has decreased massively?
It only takes a couple of minutes to look at the current squad and the players who have plied their trade at Paradise in years gone by to note that Celtic have an incredibly good track record at being a stepping stone. Quite literally, we are one of the best at doing this in Europe. In fact, off the top of my head, I can only really think of Ajax, Dortmund, Southampton and Lille who, in recent years, have had more success at letting players move on to European super clubs for the good of their careers.
That isn’t to say Celtic haven’t improved their portfolio over the years. Most notably and obviously, Virgil van Dijk went from being a standard 22-year-old Eredivisie defender with a slight bit of potential, to improving so much at Celtic that he went on to become the world’s most expensive and ultimately best defender.
Moussa Dembele, who Celtic picked up from second-tier English side Fulham for a measly £500,000, has recently signed (or thereabouts) on loan with an option to buy for Spanish league leaders Atletico Madrid. In the eventuality that he moves permanently following the loan spell, Celtic would pick up a cushty £3mn windfall from his transfer – and that is without even noting his achievements at Lyon, where he famously knocked Manchester City out of the Champions League and scored 15 in 27 appearances in one of England’s top leagues.
Victor Wanyama also pays testament to this cause having reached the Champions League Final with Tottenham, and with Kristoffer Ajer, Odsonne Edouard, Olivier Ntcham and Jeremie Frimpong eventually set to leave the club for pastures new for big fees in the future,
Arguably, Genk do have a successful talent factory; Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly is the most well-known Genk player off the conveyor belt, alongside Lazio’s midfield general Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Leicester’s hard-working midfielder Wilfried Ndidi and Leverkusen’s dynamic winger Leon Bailey. They boast a top notch CV, but Celtic’s is equally as impressive and has proved more successful over the years.
“I have to be honest, there are still gaps in my game and at Genk they know what can be improved and where I can teach the team something. They have the resources and the ability to help me in my development. I’m excited to get started soon, they’ve followed me for a long time and in the end the choice was easy”, McKenzie went on to say.
Having been one of Europe’s most notable talent factories over the last couple of decades, are Celtic already dwindling due to the negative effect that Lennon has had in this season’s reign? Surely just six months of negative results aren’t the be all and end all of the club’s transfer policies.
This frustration is equally as annoying when you see Celtic buying players like Albian Ajeti, Shane Duffy and the like who have so far been extremely inconsequential in Celtic’s surge to wrap up the 10. Let’s hope that the Hoops’ can turn it round over the winter window – otherwise that reputation may slide a little further.