“Vasilis Barkas will return to Celtic,” confirms Utrecht Technical Director

If Vasilis Barkas is to find regular club football next season it appears it will not be with Utrecht – the Dutch club Celtic loaned the former AEK Athens ‘keeper to this season, with Utrecht technical director Jordy Zuidman, as reported in Glasgow Times admitting his club couldn’t afford to sign Celtic’s £4.5m signing on a permanent basis.

ALKMAAR , 07-02-2023 , AFAS Stadion , Dutch football , TOTO KNVB Beker , season 2022 / 2023 , AZ vs FC Utrecht , FC Utrecht goalkeeper Vasilis Barkas AZ – Utrecht cup

“We have to talk about realistic purchase options. A club like FC Utrecht, which cannot afford huge transfer amounts, has to be creative. By loaning players first, we buy time. Vasilis Barkas will return to Celtic and he is too expensive for FC Utrecht.”

Barkas has made 21 appearances for Utrecht since his move to Holland, and has by all accounts performed impressively as he helps his temporary employer push for a European qualification spot. Yet such impressive performances in Holland will come as something of a surprise to the Celtic support given Barkas’ form in a Celtic shirt.

ALKMAAR – lr FC Utrecht goalkeeper Vasilis Barkas, Vangelis Pavlidis or AZ Alkmaar during the round of 16 of the TOTO KNVB Cup between AZ Alkmaar and FC Utrecht at AFAS stadium on February 7, 2023 in Alkmaar, Netherlands. Photo VI ANP Sport

His debut season was nothing short of disastrous, yet he was keeping plenty of similar company during a dreadful season where Celtic threw away the chance to win 10-in-a-row.

As such, Ange Postecoglou gave Barkas the chance to put the previous season behind him. However, after the cheap concession of a flighted ball in a Champions League qualifier with AZ Alkmaar, the writing was on the wall for the Greek ‘keeper – and Joe Hart was picked up for £1m to ensure the Celtic defence could operate with some level of goalkeeping security behind them – something Barkas simply didn’t offer.

Ange Postecoglou with Vasilis Barkas and Dane Murray of Celtic after the during the UEFA Champions League Second Qualifying Round First Leg between Celtic and FC Midtjylland at Celtic Park on July 20, 2021.(Photo by Steve Welsh/Getty Images)

With Utrecht admitting they cannot afford to sign Barkas – or possibly seeking to drive the price of an eventual transfer down to a more affordable level – it appears the big man will return to Celtic in the summer.

Of course, it may well be some time out of the spotlight at Celtic will have improved the confidence of the player, but even if that’s the case it is unlikely Barkas would offer even competition for Joe Hart’s shirt, particularly as Ben Siegrist has since signed as Celtic’s preferred back-up option and third choice keeper Scott Bain having only recently signed a contract extension.

HeereNVEEN – FC Utrecht goalkeeper Vasilis Barkas during the Dutch Eredivisie match between sc Heerenveen and FC Utrecht at the Abe Lenstra Stadium on October 29, 2022 in Heerenveen, Netherlands. Photo ANP Sport

Instead, it would appear Barkas will be hoping his impressive performances for Utrecht can attract another suitor this summer, allow Celtic to make some money back on a what was a significant transfer fee paid to AEK Athens, and ultimately draw a line under a move for a player who appears – like so many before him – to have been unable to perform under the pressure of a big-club environment.

Niall J

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As a Bellshill Bhoy I was taken to my first Celtic game in the summer of 1987. It was Billy McNeill’s return to Celtic Park as manager and Celtic lost 5-1 to Arsenal . I thought I was a jinx, I think my Grandfather might have thought the same. It was the finest gift anyone ever gave me when he walked me through Parkhead's gates.

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