Date: 20th July 2019 at 2:48pm
Written by:

We Celtic fans have been spoiled these last few years, we really have.

Not by the team on the park – that was the result of hard graft, of persistence, of difficult choices and so earned – but by a rich vein of comedy we’ve been able to mine in that time from those across the city who labour under the delusion that they are a big club.

Born in 2012, amidst scandal and disgrace, they have operated on the edge of reason and sanity since being admitted to the Scottish football structure.

Throughout that time, theirs has been a story of egotism and over-reach which have given us more comedic moments than all the re-runs of Friends ever could.

It has been hilarious.

Chris Jack famously tweeted in 2017 that “the banter years” were over after a week in which the club had banned its players from wearing green boots to focus minds on where they were and who they were playing for, an act most of the media lapped up.

A mere eight days later, Progres Neiderkorn knocked them out of Europe and their manager Pedro Caixinha was recorded arguing with fans from amidst the bushes.

There is no end in sight to the hilarity either.

Celtic is in the midst of a rebuilding job, a job that has not been made any easier by the constant press speculation regarding our first team squad.

There is genuine interest in at least one of our players, Kieran Tierney, interest that has topped out (so far) in an £18 million offer.

At £25 million, Celtic would let an interested club talk.

There is interest in Callum McGregor, although I suspect he’d carry a larger fee and is thus considered out of reach of most EPL sides. There is interest in Ntcham, and in Tom Rogic. Clubs are said to be willing to pay £2 million for Scott Sinclair.

As I estimated in an earlier piece, there are around a dozen players at Celtic Park right now who we could very realistically command an eight figure sum of money for.

This is without a doubt a tribute to our talent for spotting players, but it’s also about our coaching side and our profile.

It’s about how trusted we are amongst the boardrooms of England.

Yesterday, one of our favourite sites – Ibrox Noise – posted a piece valuing their squad at £130 million.

The sheer craziness of this is manifestly obvious even from that top-line figure, but the lunatic nature of it only really becomes clear when you drill down into the numbers.

Tavernier, a £15 million plus player, based on scoring a lot of penalties; Barisic, worth a fantastical £20 million on the basis that he is “a Croat international” whereas Tierney is “a Scotland one with barely-working limbs.”; Glen Kamara (who they got for free from Dundee, beating off a host of teams including … ehm … nobody) has a value that is “almost stratospheric with colossal potential.” They reckon he’s a £20 million footballer; Joe Aribo is £20 million player based on two appearances, one of which was against a Tesco Select level team; Scott Arfield is worth £10 – £15 million; Alfredo Morelos is worth £30 million (yes, indeed) … and my favourite; Jordan Jones, who they signed on a free from Kilmarnock and who the same website said wasn’t worth the £1 million Kilmarnock wanted for him just 18 months ago has suddenly become an asset worth fifteen times that ….

There is no logic to any of this nonsense of course, because it is wholly illogical. None of those players is worth anywhere near what this lunatic website values them at, and this kind of stuff is the basis for the delusional belief that they are a title winning team in the making.

Put it to them that one of their best players over the last two years – Daniel Candelas – is being sold to a team in Turkey for a nominal sum of money (Phil, who broke this story twelve days ago says it’s less than £1 million) and you get blank stares or abuse.

A West Ham insider claimed during the week that he knows Morelos is available for just £5 million; it is that sum that might interest the Germans of Eintracht Frankfurt, and they’ll also know that nobody else has looked at the player in recent months.

What I’m saying is that Celtic fans mock this stuff, and we’re entirely right to do so.

Our own squad has actual value, verified by interested clubs and based on a realistic prospect of getting big money for them if they were to be sold.

And I’m not even saying that the club at Ibrox is the only one that labours under these kind of thought processes; Aberdeen’s £10 million valuation of Scott McKenna is wholly unrealistic and the proof of it is that no club has offered them anything in the region of it although he is a very good up and coming Scotland international.

I remember when we were talking about how much we could get for Moussa, and the media suggested that we’d struggle to get upwards of £15 million.

We got close to £20 million.

Tierney has already attracted an offer that, with add-ons, is higher than that.

We didn’t make this stuff up. Boyata really was the subject of a £9 million bid (which we stupidly turned down) and Ntcham was the subject of a similarly sized one. Rogic could fetch eight figures and everyone knows it well. Even Simunovic, who isn’t the most highly prized asset at central defence (that would be Ajer in my view, who we’ll certainly get big money offers for) could go for a high seven figures based on previous offers for his services.

Then there’s Ryan Christie, Griffiths, Edouard. We don’t know what Shved will be worth, or what Mikey Johnson might one day be able to fetch, but those three are all eight figure players and Edouard more than the rest, a player we could probably beat the Dembele fee for on a long enough timeline.

I think he’s already shown that he’s at least as good a striker.

So yes, I’m sorry but I’m going to keep on laughing at the nonsense which other people keep on telling themselves about the value of their own squad. There is a reason they’ve not made substantial money on any footballer since their inception in 2012.

The entire structure of the club over there is wrong, and they come across as desperate when they talk the way they do.

Earlier this month, Gerrard was reduced to practically pleading for teams to come in and take some of these players off his hands so that he could get a proper transfer budget. Nobody has yet, and I wonder, in fact, if anybody will.

Our footballers are mostly internationals, with European experience.

Furthermore, this is a team of winners.

Most of them are multi-title winners, many of them in a team that went through an entire domestic campaign unbeaten. They have proven they can handle success and that they have the right mental attitude to play through pressure, even – as happened when Rodgers left suddenly – in the midst of utter chaos.

They keep on winning anyway.

You can’t bluff your way to either league titles or big fees for your footballers.

You have to earn both, and that’s where the real blind-spot is. Some of the players on the Ibrox Noise list have never won a thing in their careers. Others on that list are serial losers who have cracked in the spotlight time and time again. Nobody wants to buy that.

Except maybe Comedy Central.

Yes, the laughs just keep on coming.