As this window’s activity ramps up, another couple of players will probably be leaving. One of them will almost certainly be Jack Hendry.
He will be the second young Scottish player who we signed in the last couple of years to depart in this window. It is kind of surprising that Morgan is leaving Celtic on a permanent deal. It will not be surprising if Hendry does.
Neither player was exactly a success at Celtic Park. Morgan has been the higher profile player recently but Hendry has played more games. Both were signed by Rodgers. Neither shone when the opportunities presented themselves.
It is a huge disappointment that none of these excellent young Scottish talents has blossomed into a player good enough to play for this club. Morgan, in particular, seemed like a no-miss. In his final season at St Mirren he was so far ahead of every other player in the Scottish Championship that you thought there was no way he wouldn’t cut it in the SPL.
I used to read reports about him that were glowing.
Whenever Chick Young spoke about him on Radio Scotland he raved about how brilliant this young guy was.
The last player from Scotland I felt this excited about was Ryan Christie.
At Inverness it was abundantly clear that he was the best young talent in the league; I felt Morgan might be the same. I am surprised that he decided to leave the club rather than go back out on loan, and return a footballer who was ready for our first team squad.
Hendry looked like a no-brainer when we signed him. A physical player who was rated highly and on the verge of a Scotland call-up, we signed him from Dundee but he had played in England and he had played 30 games in our top flight before we bought him.
He was certainly raw and with a lot to learn but I could not see him being a flop. I thought he might take time to settle in, but I fully expected that he would.
He never looked comfortable. He never looked like growing into the role. Indeed, I thought it was swallowing him up, even early on. Not everyone has the mentality to make it at this level; a lot of players get the footballing equivalent of altitude sickness. That was exactly what I thought of every time I saw him in a Celtic shirt.
The names of these two players – and that of Scott Allan, a frankly baffling signing which I would still love to hear an explanation for – will certainly be used against us the next time we are in the market for one of Scotland’s hot prospects, and especially if Sevco is also interested. No-one will mention the likes of Glen Middleton. These guys will be the cautionary tale, the reasons why no young Scottish player should ever sign for the club.
They are also a warning to us. Some are suggesting that we make a move for Lawrence Shankland, and whilst he has scored an impressive number of goals he’s done so in the same league that Morgan was such a good footballer in. Sevco once signed Nicky Clark from the same league after a lot of goals and he was no more successful overall than Morgan.
It is a huge step up from one level to another; people should not underestimate it. I am not saying Shankland wouldn’t score SPL goals, but we must not assume he’d be good enough at this level and certainly not in the oxygen thin atmosphere of a top club.
But nor should people assume that the failures of these players will dissuade us from going after other top Scottish talents in the future.
I still think we might see David Turnbull in a Celtic shirt, and I will be glad if we do. I would have taken Scott McKenna; there’s a good footballer there, but one who is some ways from being good enough to be a first team regular at Parkhead. And of course, John McGinn would already be a key part of the Celtic machine if he’d signed.
The core of the Celtic first squad will always be Scottish. That is partly out of necessity; we are going to need a certain number of them for any European squad, including four who have been reared by our own side. I like that our identity has to be Scottish, but it means that we have to be ever on the lookout for the best emerging talent here.
That quest will go on.
Players will still want to come here.
But it takes a strong will to succeed; talent alone – which Morgan has in abundance – is not enough.