When you have Joe Hart ahead of you in the pecking order and Scott Bain having signed a new deal, first team opportunities are going to be hard to come by.
With that in mind Celtic goalkeeper Conor Hazard has taken the route of Liam Shaw and headed out on loan. But the Northern Irish international hasn’t headed to another Scottish Premiership side, instead he’s off to Finland and HJK Helsinki and it’s a yearlong deal rather than six months.
🍀 Conor Hazard has joined @hjkhelsinki on a one-year loan deal.
Best of luck, Conor! 🧤
— Celtic Football Club (@CelticFC) January 19, 2022
Hazard of course burst on to the scene as he performed heroics in the penalty shoot-out that secured the Quadruple Treble for Celtic but game time for the shoot-out hero has been limited since. And with young Tobi Oluwayemi now training with the first team, and a clear pathway emerging to become Celtic number one within the next couple of years, Conor Hazard has taken the step of getting himself the regular experience of first team football and outside the comfort zone of domestic football.
Ross Doohan is another Celtic ‘keeper out on loan and is earning rave reviews at Tranmere Rovers. As such both Hazard and Celtic will see the opportunities offered by this deal as being ideal experience for Hazard, to get those minutes under his belt, but also perhaps to showcase his talents and perhaps put him in the shop window with a view to a permanent move.
It’s a credit to Connor Hazard that he has taken the leap to a new club and a new culture and you get the feeling he may not be the last goalkeeper to look elsewhere.
With far too many goalkeepers on the books it is likely Vasilis Barkas may also follow suit, after all he too will now struggle to make appearances for Celtic and as a player who cost north of £4m to sign, and no doubt on wages that reflected the size of the transfer fee, you’d imagine Celtic will be keen for Barkas to follow Hazard’s example and either head out on loan or have his representatives look for a permanent Parkhead exit.
Barkas has clearly struggled to settle in Scotland and with the demands of playing at Celtic. And with Hart and Bain ahead of him, and Oluwayemi being prepared for first team football, much like Hazard, there is little room for an expensive option so far down the pecking order.
With 12 days of the transfer window remaining, it may well be Conor Hazard is not the only goalkeeper looking for somewhere else to ply his trade. And much like Hazard’s move to Helsinki, a similar move for Vasilis Barkas would make a lot of sense for all concerned.