The news from Celtic Park today is that we appear to be on the verge of ending a two year transfer pursuit with the signing of Scotland’s hottest domestic produced player, Stuart Armstrong.
As regular readers know I would consider this a great signing, the kind of signing that would make us a far stronger side.
I don’t know about the Thomas Muller comparisons – indeed, I don’t recall Deila making that statement – but he’s a fine footballer with a good brain and who can play in various positions across the midfield or behind the front men.
Armstrong is also a natural leader, as evidenced by his appointment as captain of the Scotland Under 21’s.
Scott Brown signed a new deal last year, and that was welcomed because our team does not look the same without him in it. Stuart Armstrong would give us options beyond the immediate horizon, including an answer as to who Scott’s long term replacement is, down to who wears the armband.
£2.5 million is a lot of money. But it’s a small price to pay for the kind of quality we’re getting here. Frankly, this is one of those zero risk signings, in stark contrast to some of those we’ve seen in the past few years. Ronny has watched the player at close quarters, as we all have, over the last couple of years.
We know what we’re getting. We know he can handle this league and works hard in a team.
The X Factor, of course, is what will happen when he has to step it up on the bigger stage. There’s no way to know that until he actually does it, as there’s no way to know how Gary Mackay Steven will function in Europe until he’s there. Time will tell, but both are experienced players, and they should fit right into the Celtic team with ease.
There’s still work to be done during this window, but if we complete this signing then Ronny Deila’s team shape is becoming clear, and I am impressed by the nature of the project. If we do keep our current players, at least until the end of the window, then I’ll be broadly satisfied with the progress, although I’d like to see us bring in a quality finisher, especially as Guidetti no longer looks like he’ll be hanging around.
Kris Commons is probably not going to be here next season, so goals from midfield will be a must. Armstrong doesn’t have a great scoring record, but Commons didn’t either before arriving at Celtic Park, but found a style and position that suited him.
Deila knows what he wants by now. He knows where Armstrong fits in.
Inter Milan will not be quaking in their boots … but this signing is for the long term. When Ronny has the players he wants, playing the way he wants, then we may well find ourselves back where we belong, giving these teams a game and restoring our European reputation.
I hope we get this one over the line quickly.