The £90,000 a week Forster problem and the emerging £5k Vasilios Barkas solution

THE SIX FOOT FIVE AEK ATHENS goalkeeper Vasilios Barkas could be heading to Glasgow in a £5million transfer to Celtic – if manager Neil Lennon cannot resurrect the deal to bring Fraser Forster back to the club.

The other two options for Lennon are former England goalkeeper Joe Hart and the former Celt David Marshall – and neither of these two would incur a transfer fee. As things stand Celtic have just one first team ready goalkeeper on the books in Scott Bain. Craig Gordon left for Hearts after rejecting a much reduced new deal to warm the Celtic bench in the Ten-in-a-Row campaign. He decided to truth to Tynecastle stating that game time over the final few years of his career was more important to him than seeing Celtic win Ten-in-a-Row.

Gordon clearly believed when announcing his decision on Sunday evening that Fraser Forster was coming back to Celtic but that quickly unravelled this week after the big Englishman returned to St Mary’s to discuss his future with the Southampton bosses.

It is believed that Celtic had agreed a further one season loan deal with Saints with an option to buy after that and expected this deal to proceed. Forster had already publicly indicated that he’d like to stay on at Celtic but after speaking to Soouthampton, news broke that the deal was OFF.

Apparently Forster is now reluctant to go on loan again, preferring a permanent transfer now but that meant that his financial situation regarding the the final two years of his £90,000-a-week deal at Southampton would have to be addresses and this became a significant financial hurdle.

CELTIC don’t and won’t pay a player that kind of money – it just isn’t possible on the revenues that are generated in Scottish football. They are prepared to push the boat out to make Forster the highest earning player at the club but there is no chance that any player will be getting £90k a week while Celtic play in the Scottish Premiership.

SOUTHAMPTON, despite their huge broadcast revenues, are cash strapped and are seeking to reduce the wage bill. Paying £90k a week to a third choice keeper is crippling and there have been reports over the past week that last season’s loan deal between Saints and Celtic for Forster saw the Scottish Champions contribute just £15k per week to the former Newcastle Utd keeper’s wages, leaving Saints to fund the difference.

FORSTER isn’t prepared to give up on the massive amount of money that he is due from his Southampton contract although he is more than happy to compromise. That would involve Southampton agreeing a compromise deal with him and Celtic contributing additional sums to get the deal over the line.

Meanwhile Southampton’s first and second choice keepers – presumably also on big bucks – have hardly covered themselves in glory over the current campaign, although a strong start to the behind closed doors matches looks to have secured Southampton’ place in the Premier League. Could you imagine to fall-out if they were to be relegated?

Last week we showed you this graph from The Economist which shows the revenues for the English Premier League – just look at the broadcasting figures. That tells you who Celtic struggle to meet these type of wages and indeed even with that sort of money, paying out £90k a week to a third pick keeper is the very reason why Southampton are allegedly cash strapped!

The usually well informed Stephen McGowan at Daily Mail confirms this morning that Barkas is now a viable option for Celtic.

Barkas, who is also attracting interest from Leeds Utd, has been the subject of a Celtic enquiry this week as Lennon seeks a solution to his goalkeeping woes. The 26-year-old Greek International has won 10 caps for his country and made over a hundred appearances for AEK Athens, the side who eliminated Celtic from the Champions League qualifiers in 2018.

David Marshall and Joe Hart remain in consideration and with Wigan slipping into administration this week – certainly the first and perhaps not the last – the deal for Marshall should be relatively straight forward. Hart, is also without a club as a free agent and this week appealed for a club to take a chance on him.

Is this the season for Celtic to be taking chances? Few supporters seem to think so. Let’s bring Fraser Forster home!

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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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