As I wrote earlier, Brendan Rodgers has dropped a big hint about a “marquee signing” before the window closes.
Well, the transfer rumour factory kicked into high gear this weekend, with a breaking story that I heard whispers of last week.
As this site reported, there’s been some contact between Celtic and Manchester City over whether their out of favour stars might be amendable to coming to our club on loan, should we qualify for the Champions League Groups.
Those talks are still ongoing, but Celtic has not been idle and other clubs are being sounded out.
One of those clubs is Everton, who are under new management.
Whenever that happens, certain players always find themselves frozen out.
One of those predicted to suffer under the new regime is one of our own, Castlemilk’s finest, James McCarthy.
McCarthy is the one that got away. Celtic scouts had recommended him, but whether the manager didn’t fancy him or the club’s bean counters just didn’t want to pay the money is irrelevant now. His dream was to play for the Hoops, and few who saw him, even then, doubted he had the stuff.
He has gone on to be every bit as good as his early admirers believed he would, becoming a full international (for the Republic of Ireland; something that caused much consternation in the bigoted Scottish press corps who simply wouldn’t forgive that) and a top class midfielder.
Everton have just signed a brand new player for his slot. Koeman is eyeing others. McCarthy is at that time in his career where he wants to be playing every week. On Saturday he was subbed “for tactical reasons” and there is some talk that his career there is now in the final phase.
Even if that’s true, there will be no shortage of interested parties; McCarthy is rated down there, as he is up here, and clubs have made attempts to sign him.
On the surface of it, this appears to be nothing more than idle speculation but there’s good reason to think that it’s more. Koeman says he wants to keep him, because he thinks he can be a good player for the club, but if he can’t guarantee the kid football every week some form of loan deal might well be a good option for all concerned. In addition to that, McCarthy is being played out of position right now, so his first team appearances, when he does get them, may well not be in his preferred position. At right wing back Koeman will never see the best of him, and McCarthy will not be happy at being played so far from his central midfield slot.
There is no indication that James McCarthy is homesick but it’s hard to believe that a move to Celtic wouldn’t interest him, especially now that Brendan Rodgers is running the show. The dream at Everton has soured; he went there under Roberto Martinez but he’s no longer there, and Koeman doesn’t seem to want him playing where he belongs.
Much is made of the £13 million Everton paid for him, and there’s some suggestion that they’d not be willing to let him go for less. Indeed, it’s not impossible that the club could get an offer in that region. What’s more is that McCarthy is in the first full year of a new deal which ties him to the club until 2020, but that, too, was negotiated when Martinez was boss.
It sounds like a story going nowhere, but the lure of Celtic Park weighs heavily on the player’s mind and although he’ll have options this is the apex of McCarthy’s footballing ambition. If Everton were to get a good enough offer from Celtic, to take him to Parkhead on loan, nobody would have to twist James’ arm, and that’s a well-known fact.
Brendan Rodgers was asked this weekend about a “marquee signing”, and as I said earlier he clearly has plans in that area.
He did, of course, say that any such player would have to be able to do certain things.
Here, again, are the attriubtes he emphasised.
“‘You have to be athletic, you have to be able to press. You can’t run forward if you can’t run back, that’s one of my rules for a team,” he said. “The athleticism, the mobility, the hunger, the intensity has to be there and they have to be leading their life right. If that’s a big name, great, and if we can do it, great, but if not we just get the best possible player we can.”
That rules out a move for the German Schweinsteiger, as many have pointed out, but McCarthy ticks the right boxes, but then a number of players do.
What’s for sure is that someone tasty will be arriving before the window shuts.
Don’t rule out the possibility of bringing James McCarthy home, even if it’s a season long loan deal.
In Brendan We Trust.
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