Brendan Rodgers will face a very nice dilemma over the summer; what to do with the brilliant Ryan Christie?
He is looking at spending money on a player in Christie’s precise role; the attacking midfield berth. That would seem to indicate that the player has a limited future at Celtic Park, if he has a future here at all. But then, many of us thought that about Callum McGregor, and how wrong we turned out to be about that.
There are crucial differences, of course, and primarily amongst them is this; Callum was never allowed to go out on loan, and Ryan was.
That suggests, some say, that the manager sees something in Callum that simply isn’t there with the kid we signed from Inverness. But I don’t think that argument stands up. Callum has spent long periods on the bench. The manager didn’t want Ryan to do the same. He wanted him playing, as much as possible.
The other first team squad player who has been allowed out on loan is Scott Allan.
Few of us can foresee circumstances where he will return to Celtic Park. But this isn’t the same situation. Scott is down in England and although I’m sure his progress is being monitored, Brendan wanted Ryan where he could keep a closer eye on him than that.
His goal against Sevco last night was the culmination of a short-term loan deal which has worked out well for everyone involved. He hasn’t played as much as many of us would have liked, but he’s shown, in flashes, what he is capable of doing on a regular basis.
It was easy to convince him to make the move because he knows what we are all about. But the learning curve has been steep. The boy has all the talent in the world, and Brendan knows this, but it will do no-one any good if he is sitting in the bench.
That’s the trouble though; does he fit in the current team and will it get any better in the season to come?
That’s where the debate will be.
Ryan can play in the role behind the strikers, and an auxiliary forward if need be.
But he can also play wide, either on the left or on the right, and you could argue that he should be competing with Armstrong and Callum for the attacking role and giving Forrest a run for his money in the other, unless Patrick Roberts returns to Celtic Park.
The competition at our club is fierce. That’s already an established fact. If the club signs another player for the attacking midfield slot, or on the wing, it will be even more difficult for him to break through. But I do believe he has the talent.
I believe Brendan does too. I think our manager wants Ryan back at Parkhead, and I think he will come home and establish himself as a key part of our squad. At Inverness he was the most promising young footballer in the country, with the exception of our own Kieran Tierney.
I believe that next year we’ll see his talents blossom, and the top drawer footballer will emerge. If Brendan likes what he sees in pre-season, and if the cheque book hasn’t been brought out to acquire a similar type player, I think he might well save us a bunch of money too.
This is one of the dilemmas the manager will face over the summer.
It’s a nice problem to have though.