The six Celtic candidates to join Barkas going out for a season on loan

After Vasilis Barkas moved out on-loan to FC Utrecht in the Dutch Eredivisie earlier this month, there is scope for others who haven’t quite been up to scratch under Ange Postecoglou to follow the Greek misfit out the door temporarily to have meaningful game time.

Of course Celtic might prefer to sell any fringe players who are not in the manager’s plans for the new season but that sometimes can be easier said than done, as under contract players will always be looking at securing their substantial salaries within their Celtic contracts and would be reluctant to take significant pay cuts. So the season long loan route at least gets the players out the door with signifiant contributions made to the monthly salary cost as a saving to Celtic.

Here we take a look at who just may follow Barkas to new horizons vis the season long loan route…

1. Ismaila Soro

Ismaila Soro during the UEFA Europa League Group G stage match between Real Betis and Celtic FC at Benito Villamarin Stadium. Photo Jose Luis Contreras

Ismaila Soro has today been linked with a loan move to Serbia, with Partizan Belgrade interested in acquiring his services from Celtic. Soro – a signing under previous boss Neil Lennon – has failed to live up to his early promise in the hooped jersey, with Ange not keen on the Ivorian’s over-zealous approach in the defensive-midfield position when given the opportunity.

Now, according to a report by Football Scotland, the small yet aggressive sitting midfielder is being lined up for a move away from Celtic Park. Partizan finished second in the Serbian League behind their city rivals Red Star. It is thought at the moment that it would only be an initial loan deal for the player, with no option-to-buy clause inserted within any prospective agreement.

Soro is a tenacious midfielder and will no doubt prove himself worthy at another club. Currently however, the door at Parkhead appears to be shut firmly; with Celtic actively pursuing another defensive-midfielder for their tilt at European football against the elite teams. Ismaila doesn’t look like being included in this group as we try and navigate this quest next year.

As such, he would be best served trying to find somewhere where he can play regularly and develop his game. At just 24-years-old, there is still plenty of time to achieve all he desires within the sport, although it will most definitely be elsewhere.

2. Albian Ajeti

Albian Ajeti during the Premiership match at Livingston.: Photo Andrew Milligan

In the case of Albian Ajeti it seems like another episode of wrong place, wrong time. The striker has shown in glimpses he can find the way to goal when he has been fit and available. However, in a single striker system it just didn’t reflect well on his attributes and will find himself more and more on the margins of the squad if he lingers at Parkhead.

His old club Basel in Switzerland are rumoured to be really keen to reunite with him; although any deal has potential road blocks, with Albian on a significant contract only just signed in the summer of 2020. There is undeniably a player in there and it would be a shame to see him waste away on a bench when he should be showcasing his talents elsewhere. A team in the English Championship would most likely be his best bet, considering the wages he is on at Celtic.

3. Boli Bolingoli

Boli Bolingoli of Celtic during the Cinch Scottish Premiership match between Livingston FC and Celtic FC at The Toni Macaroni Arena on September 18, 2021.. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

The disastrous tenure of Boli Bolingoli should go down in history along with Vasilis Barkas and other high-profile mistakes that the Peter Lawwell years bequeathed us. Boli arrived for a handsome sum from Austria with Rapid Vienna and didn’t settle in a regular left-back spot – looking more like a wing-back or winger.

His infamous trip to Spain during the Covid-19 fiasco did not help the floundering full-backs case, solidifying the cries of him being unfit for purpose. Just when we thought he was off he was right back at our door; the Russian annexation of Ukraine put paid to any farewell. He now lingers around Lennoxtown like an ageing maintenance man. If we could get him shipped out it would be fantastic, if only to keep him from disrupting the harmony around the squad.

4. James McCarthy

Celtic v AZ Alkmaar – James McCarthy at the end of the match at Celtic Park. Photo Andrew Milligan

Another that is no doubt on a significant wage at the club, if he isn’t in Ange’s plans we should look to loan him out to free up dormant wages. Unfortunate with injuries, even when he has stepped in he has looked unable to keep up with the pace at which our new manager prefers to play at. Only really brought on to see out games, it seems a terrible waste again to see a player that can offer teams so much provide so little.

Again, a team in the English Championship or even the bottom half of the Premier League may be willing to take him off out hands in the interim. After all, it wasn’t that long ago he was putting in fine displays for Roy Hodgson at Crystal Palace. Injury-free and in the right system, McCarthy could still do somebody a turn.

5. Scott Bain

Photo by Stuart Wallace

With the addition of another goalkeeper in Benjamin Seigrist, it would seem apparent that Ange Postecoglou is not completely satisfied with Scott Bain pushing Joe Hart for the number one shirt. Bain only signed a new deal recently which is strange after the club pursued Seigrist so vigorously after his contact at Tannadice concluded.

Did Ange see Beji in action this season and decide that Bain was not the guy to be number two in the goalkeeping department? If so, maybe a move to another cinch Premiership side may be the answer in the meantime. Dundee United will be looking for a new stopper now. Could it be a swap with Seigrist and Bain? It’s not out of the question.

6. Christopher Jullien

Christopher Jullien of Celtic celebrates with the Betfred Cup after victory over theRangers at Hampden on 8 December, 2019. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Contentious, I know. But again, if Ange does not fancy Chris and his playing style l, then maybe we could look at shipping him out on-loan to Ligue 1 – as there’s plenty of interest in the big defender. A loan deal with an obligation to buy included as he’s in the last year of his current deal at Celtic Park, consequently protecting any fee.

If not though, we do have a very experienced and imposing centre-back, which may allow other funds be transferred to other parts of the squad for the coming season. The defender did post a video of himself in the gym training and it had been reported he wanted to stay and fight for his place. So we might have Christopher for a while longer yet.

Primarily the problem Celtic have is shifting deadwood that is the legacy of a failed football department under the previous regime. The change under Ange has been refreshing and it is understood he will give everyone a chance. However, sometimes it’s just not meant to be and sadly for most of the aforementioned players, Celtic will not be their footballing home for much longer.

If we cannot shift stagnant wages out the door permanently, then the loan market must be explored. We are not in the climate of hoarding footballers that don’t contribute on big salaries, and it has the potential to hold us back in the transfer market if left unattended.

A clear-out is in dire need. I think Ange acknowledges that too.

Paul Gillespie

About Author

I'm a Garngad Bhoy through and through. My first ever Celtic game was a friendly against Italian side Parma at Celtic Park, in 2002. Currently a student of English Literature and Education at the University of Strathclyde for my sins. Favourite game would be a toss up between beating Manchester United with that Naka freekick, or the game against the Oldco when Hesselink scored in the dying seconds. I'm still convinced Cal Mac is wasted playing that far back.

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