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The Best Strikers Celtic Could Go For In January Who Are Out Of Contract Next Summer


Over the weekend, Brendan Rodgers identified the key area where Celtic needs to strengthen in January, he wants two strikers.

The Leigh Griffiths situation has helped to speed up a process which was already well underway.

Brendan has already been talking to at least one target, although whether it’s a striker is presently unknown.

But moves are afoot.

Plans are being put in motion.

And it stands to reason that if you’re going to bring in a striker, especially a first choice forward to replace Dembele, then he has to have quality. The best place to find quality is not on the transfer market per se … it’s in the list of players whose contracts are expiring in the summer and who might, therefore, be available for a reduced fee.

This is a list of the kind of people we should be looking at.

Sergei Enrich

He definitely ticks some of the boxes.

He plays at the highest level, in La Liga, for SD Eibar, where he’s been for four years.

He started his career at Mallorca, and had his best spell at Numancia.

He has a ratio of a goal every four games … a very decent return at such a poor side, in one of the biggest leagues in the game. He would not be terribly expensive either, if we were to sign him on a pre-contract and then offer to take him at once, which is the move we’d need to make with all of these guys.

Enrich is 5’11 so he’s not the most physically imposing, but he could certainly do a job for us.

He’s 28, which makes him younger than many of the players on this list.

Idrissa Sylla

Currently playing for QPR, the Guinean striker is not prolific but he is the imposing, penalty-box dominator we’re missing.

Aside from England, he’s played in Belgium and in France.

Last season, as his team struggled, he scored a mere 4 in 22 … the season before he scored 10 in 33.

Those don’t sound like impressive stats, but he’s another player floundering in a poor team, in relegation dogfights … in a Celtic side playing good football, who knows?

He too is 28; we’d be getting a player with a good few years left in him.

Andy Carroll

A stretch? Some of the names on this list are going to be, but there’s a good reason why a deal such as this one can work.

Andy Carroll is a fine footballer, and was once a potent goalscorer, who needs to find it again.

He has two honours in his career to date; a Championship title with Newcastle and a League Cup with Liverpool. As he gets to a point in his career where he’s looking back more than he’s looking forward, isn’t it time he went somewhere just to win things? And to be a hero again?

He’s 29. These should be his peak years. There’s little doubt that West Ham fans like him, and he likes the club, but does he really fancy staying in the EPL and being a bit-part player in some expensive machine of a team? Or would a move to Scotland, and the chance to be an icon, appeal?

Wages would be a sticking point, or so some think.

But really, we could pay him well enough and if he’s not already a multi-millionaire several times over I’ll be astounded.

Josip Drmic

He’s a Swiss international playing in Germany, for Monchengladbach.

A disappointment in his time in Germany, he is due an upturn in his career.

He is 26, which makes him a prime-time target with development potential and a re-sale value.

His development has clearly stalled at his current club, and it’s a shame because his first year in Germany, at Nuremberg, was highly impressive. Amongst the clubs who were monitoring him were Arsenal. But he had settled in Germany and a move to Leverkusen followed.

That was a mistake as he was never going to push the club legend Stefan Kießling out of the team and he moved inside a year.

Injuries and loss of form have hampered him in Monchengladbach so far … but there’s still a fine footballer in there, waiting for the right club to come along.

Fredrik Gulbrandsen

The one individual Craig Gordon will not want to see again, ever.

Gulbrandsen scored the goal at Celtic Park last week which put us 2-0 down and seemed to be pushing us towards the European football exit door.

His cheeky nip in caught Gordon cold. It was a predators goal.

He is not a bad player; last season he 17 times in Red Bull Salzburg’s colours, not a bad return at all.

Having seen Celtic Park, he’ll know exactly what he’d be getting into if he were approached about a move.

Olivier Giroud

All things point away from a deal such as this one, all things but one.

Giroud had a chance to sign for us before, back when he was a young striker plying his trade in the second tier of France.

Everything was going well, until French cracks Montpellier stepped in. With their bid on the table, he had a shot at Ligue One and from there, who knew where?

Arsenal. Chelsea.

I guess his career move worked out well.

But he has always spoken highly of our club, and admits that the offer was almost too good to turn down. He does, at times, indulge in “what might have been?”, having seen how other players have left Celtic for big moves. He’s a little past the point of worrying about his own next one, he has enough cash tucked away to last a lifetime.

Celtic may just fancy their chances.

If you don’t ask, you never know.

Danny Welbeck

Another one that you might not think has legs, but believe it or not, he’s a long time target for the club.

We’ve actually tried to get him on loan twice, but to no avail.

Third times the charm, they say, and what better way than to offer him a permanent deal?

Wages would be an issue, but as with some of the other examples listed it’s only an issue if you’re dealing with a greedy player only interested in money.

It’s actually far and away the biggest punt on this list, and the least likely, but I know he was interested … I know for a fact he was.

He will have other offers. Loads of them.

That makes this an outside chance at best … but again, if you don’t ask you never know.

Yannick Sagbo

He currently plays in Qatar, after a spell in England; he is a French / Ivorian striker who definitely knows where the goal is.

And Celtic almost had him in 2013. He was, in fact, our top target that summer.

Neil Lennon liked him a lot, but whatever happened he got away from us and ended up at Hull instead.

I’m sure he very much regretted that move.

He never came close to settling there, and they loaned him to Wolves 18 months later. He didn’t seem any happier there.

Qatar beckoned and he’s been a regular goalscorer there since.

Celtic could do a lot worse than to revisit this opportunity.

Robert Beric

A fantastic player, and a realistic target who would be my number one pick on this list for those reasons.

Currently contracted to St Ettiene, he has been on loan twice since signing for them from Rapid Vienna, but when he’s played he’s been impressive.

Whilst at Rapid, he was a revelation.

His goal record there was 33 in 49 games.

He’s 6’2, he’s only 27. The Slovenian international would not be cheap – £3 million plus easy – but he would be worth every penny we paid.

Laurent Depoitre

The Belgian is 30. His next move might be the last big move of his career.

He was a revelation back in his home country, but is one of a number of players to find that whilst the money was better in England than just about anywhere that the grass was not necessarily greener or the opportunities more satisfying.

He currently plays for Huddersfield.

It’s EPL, but that lower end of the EPL which doesn’t get all the ink in the papers. He would not be the first player to find a mid-table / relegation battle in that particular quagmyre not exactly to his liking. A chance to be part of sexy football again and score goals … it might be tempting.

In Belgium he had one goal every three games.

Mario Ballotelli

He’s playing for Nice, and for the third year in a row he’s signed a one year deal with the club.

His scoring record there is phenomenal; he has scored 43 in 76.

He has been there, seen it, and done the lot of it. He has a reputation for crazy stunts off the park as profound as his rep for goals on it, and he was once tabbed as something of a wild man by a media which thrived on his tendency to spark drama everywhere he went.

In the low-key environment of Ligue One he has, again, found the form that made him a sensation.

Would he be interested in a move to Scotland?

He’s a name who’s been linked to us with loan deals again and again and again …

One issue might be Brendan … he likes a peaceful dressing room and he warned the player about that before he signed for Liverpool.

Wilfried Bony

Believe it or not, this one is more than just a realistic prospect, and the rumour factory has been on this one heavily; rate this as a B plus.

Because Bony knows the manager and the manager knows him.

They had a good relationship, and when he signed for Swansea for his first spell there he produced for our manager, and how. So good was he that the moneybags of Manchester City were soon tempting the Welsh club with a big offer.

He has flitted in and out of first team football for a couple of years now.

A lot of people think he’s past it now at 30.

They are wrong.

Franco Di Santo

Another realistic prospect, because he’s another player we’ve been linked with before.

And before. And before. And before.

We were linked with him when he was a Wigan, and before he moved to Bremen. Then, when they were selling him we were linked with him again. He went to Schalke instead, and guess what? We were linked with him two seasons in a row, on loan, when he wasn’t in the team.

He is a decent enough player, although one who has never fulfilled his incredible early potential.

He’s 29 now. This might be his last chance to show what he’s really got.

Gary Hooper

Surprised you with this one, didn’t I?

Honestly, how could Gary Hooper not feature on this list? We were the best thing that ever happened to his career, and his record at this club was absolutely outstanding.

Let’s examine the numbers again, just to prove the issue.

In 138 games he scored 82 times for us.

That record is formidable. He is just 18 short of joining the 100 club … a guy like this, he could do it in his first season back.

He’s 30. Too old? Definitely not.

With two or three good years in him, this one might be more than possible.

Daniel Sturridge

It’s almost compulsory to have this guy in here, we’ve been linked with on loan so often since Brendan arrived.

An outside chance, at best, but a fantastic, wonderful, diamond of a footballer when on his game … and his best games, ever, were all under our manager.

Each knows what the other has got.

Each has a healthy appreciation for the other’s skill-set.

The wage drop would be monumental. It would be the single most stunning signing in Scottish football history.

In another world maybe.

If we were an EPL team then this guy would have Hoops on already.

Unlikely here, if I’m being generous.

Aleksandr Kokorin

One of Russia’s finest forwards, he is a tremendous footballer who will have no shortage of offers when his contract expires.

He has been at Zenit for three years. He can play as an out and out striker, or as a winger. He creates, he scores.

He has spent his whole career in Russian football.

At 27 he may just feel the time is right to try something new.

England seems a likely destination … but you just never know.

Frazier Campbell

Another player we’ve been linked with several times; his move to Hull seemed to have scuppered any chance of it.

But his contract expires at the end of this campaign, and teams are free to talk to him in a mere handful of weeks.

He’s been around English football now, a long way from where he started out as a top drawer prospect at Manchester United.

We can offer him that kind of stage all over again, albiet in Scotland.

Money would the stumbling block, but like a lot of others on the list he’s a multi-millionaire who might just decide it’s time to win some honours.

Eren Derdiyok

Aged 30 now, he is a superb footballer who has played in Switzerland, Germany and now plays in Turkey for Galatassary.

The Swiss international is a tricky footballer capable of moments of sheer brilliance.

He would be a wild-card signing, but he would represent good value if we were able to capture him for a couple of years.

There is no doubt at all as to his quality, or his dedication to excellence.

In the current campaign he has 9 goals in 17 matches … he is a great player and would be a no-brainer if the business could be done.

Fran Sol

This is the name currently doing the rounds, of course; the Spanish striker plying his trade in Holland.

He is actually a very decent shout, a fine striker with a good record.

At only 26, he has all the talent and potential in the world. His resale value would be high, and as he’s succeeding in the technical environement of Dutch football you have to assume that he knows what he’s doing, and is skillful on the ball.

Laughable rumours put the Ibrox NewCo in the race for his signature with us.

Oh they really do make you laugh at times.

But We Definitely Won’t Be Going For … Steven Naismith

Over the weekend, Davie Provan suggested that we should be looking at the ex-Rangers striker, now playing for Hearts.

Whatever you might think of the players on this list, all of them are better footballers than Naismith.

All of them are more realistic prospects.

Provan’s suggestion is the kind that makes you wonder what the Scottish media is on.

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