Amidst the transfer rumour stories there are two which speak of Celtic’s desire to move up a gear.
If we pull off either of them then I think it signifies a serious doctrinal shift inside our walls, one that will have enormous implications for the club going forward.
The first is Sporar, for whom we’d need to find somewhere in the region of £6 million and perhaps more.
This would represent significant business, and whilst I accept that another striker would need to leave it would be a huge outlay for a player who is essentially going to be backing up Eddie at least until the summer. Those who think he’s replacing him are missing the point.
This is the kind of money Celtic has rarely spent.
I used to lament this, back when it was still an issue; between us signing John Hartson for £6 million and completing the signing of Odsonne Edouard, nearly 20 years elapsed. Sutton was brought in July 2000, Hartson followed in August 2001. Eddie was brought to Celtic Park in 2018.
The years in between wrought massive changes in football. Even mediocre players were suddenly costing huge sums of money. I always wondered if we would ever break the transfer record we paid for Sutton and Hartson, or if the board had just given up.
But not only did we shatter it by bringing in Eddie, we then went over the £6 million mark again at the start of this campaign when we paid £7 million for Jullien. Suddenly the idea that we might buy Sporar in this window for £6 million isn’t as daft as it would have been.
And that brings me to the summer targets and the possibility of us signing either Elyounoussi or Forster on a permanent deal. The press was speculating the other day that the winger would cost us around £7 million and there was a time when we’d have dismissed it on those grounds … but not anymore. Celtic has a new found appetite for spending at that level, and having gone beyond our previous transfer record twice in a year I half expect us to do it again soon.
What does this mean for the club?
Well, way back when Lawwell was first at Celtic Park he made a promise that I believe he subsequently broke.
That promise was to maintain the core of a first team squad and add to it with at least one quality addition – a starting eleven footballer – in every season. I think if we’re now pursuing that policy, and the indications are good, that it means exciting times.
I think we’re undoubtedly a stronger team than we were this time last year.
I was broadly happy with the summer spending; we strengthened in those areas which were critical. There is more work to be done, but there seems to be a willingness to spend the kind of sums which are required to bring top tier talent to the club, and this ought to worry those around us.
Some will point to the Kent signing and say that Sevco is trying to emulate that strategy; they might well want to, but they can’t sustain that year in year out because of the impact on their debt. Having the intent is one thing, but you need to have the means too, and we can certainly afford to go after these kind of players on a regular basis.
This is a massive window for the club, and we all know it. The board has to. If we add one blue chip player on a permanent deal I don’t care if we do bring in backup players like Billy Sharp, a few loanees in key areas and wait until the summer to do the real business … that will do just fine.
As long as we come out of the window stronger than we went in and make a statement of intent. Sporar will cost a pretty penny, but we have the money to get it done.
Add someone like a Wanyama on loan, a backup central defender and someone who can play wide right and I would be more than happy … indeed, I’d be delighted.
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