In the heart of every Parkhead faithful, no one compared to Swedish superstar Henrik Larsson. 2004 saw them bid adieu to arguably the greatest footballer to have worn the green & white, and the Hoops have missed his presence ever since.
After that it has been hotly debated as to who was the best player to have played for the Bhoys. After the departure of their hero there was a downsizing in the club and this led to the stoppage of the arrival of expensive players from the top-flight English leagues.
Players who played alongside the Swedish star for the club and those who played on loan spells have been excluded from this list. However, that does not imply that there have not been players who have managed to impress the Celtic fans.
Some of these players were bargains in football transfer history but later went on to leave the club at very high prices.
3. Moussa Dembele
Having been bought for a sum of only 50,000 pounds from Fulham in 2016, the Frenchman had a stellar spell at Celtic. He helped the club win consecutive trebles in the Scottish domestic league. He has been dubbed as a striker that possesses all the essentials required to climb to the top level. This is quite true considering the fact that in his first season with the club, he managed to bag 32 goals.There were many rumours of him being transferred to AC Milan who were very interested in the young striker after they saw his incredible potential. However, he was transferred to Lyon for a sum of 19.7 million pounds in 2018 with a five-year contract.
Being only 22 years of age, this starlet still has a lot of room for improvement.
2. Shunsuke Nakamura
The playmaker from Japan will always be special in the heart of every die-hard Celtic supporter. He impressed the crowds in the early matches where he had the role of a playmaker right behind the forwards after which he was switched to the right flank by Gordon Strachan. During his period of playing on the flanks, he created many magical moments that would last for a lifetime for many fans. However, to some extent, this was hindered due to his predictable movement of cutting inside too often and the lack of pace for the role.
His phenomenal free-kick in the match when the club faced Manchester United in the Champions League to seal the knockout round was definitely a highlight. However, this does not discount the importance of the goal against Kilmarnock that won the title and a wonderfully placed lob when they faced Dundee United in the crucial match in 2006.
1. Virgil Van Dijk
Despite much doubt regarding the ability of the skilful Dutch defender, he has definitely been the best player to represent the club after the departure of Henrik Larsson. He is gifted with strong technical prowess – being adept in the air and having the dribbling efficiency that will put any attackers to shame making him the prototype for the modern defensive player. The player was signed by Celtic for a sum of only 2.6 million pounds in 2013. After seeing his ability many Dutch sides were vying for his signature.
At Parkhead he won two titles in the league and in 2015, he made a move to Southampton before finally joining Liverpool in 2018 for a whopping sum of 75 million pounds. Van Dijk is seen as a very dependable defensive player in his present club and even leads his country in games. However, the potential for achieving this quality was present from his early days at Celtic and he is remembered by the fans for such a display.