Ever since the appointment of Eddie Howe was reported as being imminent, though that is yet to be complete, the Scottish media have linked Celtic to several Bournemouth and ex-Bournemouth players. There must be some transfer and wage kitty at Celtic Park as Asmir Begovic, Steve Cook, Matt Ritchie, Harry Wilson, Josh King and Callum Wilson are all expected on the Celtic Way if reports are to be believed. Are those genuine stories or a case of journalists Googling players that Eddie Howe has previously worked with? Common sense tells you it’s probably the latter.
Firstly, Eddie Howe hasn’t even been announced as the boss yet, nor has his recruitment team been appointed. With that in mind, it would be highly unlikely that he would be briefing people on his transfer targets in a job he doesn’t yet have.
After that consideration, one has to wonder how likely it is that players on English Premier League wages would be willing to take the inevitable wage cut required to join Celtic. Meanwhile, Steve Cook and Asmir Begovic will probably be on handsome sums having just left the Premier League.
Wages aren’t the only complication when it comes to affordability either. Indeed, Callum Wilson cost Newcastle £20m in September 2020, signing on a 4 year deal. He has scored 10 goals in 21 Premier League games this season. According to Sportrac, Wilson’s teammate Matt Ritchie is not out of contract until 2023, meaning that a transfer fee would need to be paid to secure him. The Magpies were reported to have signed him for £10-12m on wages of £45,000 per week. As for Harry Wilson, he has two years left on his Liverpool contract and is estimated to have a market value of £15m.
Those players have three things in common – they all played for Bournemouth in the past, they all command big transfer fees, and they have all been linked to Celtic through various newspapers in Scotland this week.
Of the players speculated with a move to Glasgow, Begovic and Cook appear to be the most attainable. That said, Begovic is approaching the age of 34 and was loaned out to Qarabag and AC Milan by Howe in 2019/20. In that sense, Cook is the one that makes most sense for Celtic to pursue. He’s a steady centre half operating outside of the Premier League, albeit he will be on good wages as club captain, and will command a smaller transfer fee being a Championship player aged 29. It has been stated that he is out of contract this summer, but on closer inspection that does not appear to be the case.
🍒 Had questions recently on #AFCB contracts expiring.
📝 S Cook & A Begovic are *not* out of contract this summer. Both previously signed extensions behind the scenes.
❓J Stanislas & A Smith are the two permanent players in the final year of their deals (+ N Ofoborh).
— Kris Temple (@kristemple) March 1, 2021
Taking into account all of the “links”, only one player ticks the football and financial boxes to make a deal possible. However, that doesn’t mean Celtic will move for him (Cook). I highly doubt that there is any substance to the story, beyond journalists utilising Google to look at the Bournemouth squad and find that Cook would be a good fit.
No doubt Eddie Howe has some good connections in the English game. He may look to use those to his advantage and may well try to sign some of his former players IF he takes the Celtic job. However, anything at this stage is just pie in the sky without any basis to back up the reported interest of a Celtic boss, who is actually not the Celtic boss yet! Therefore, I’d be cautious in swallowing such speculation until there is something to back it up.