When I saw the Celtic team-sheet at the weekend, I knew that some sections of the media would start with a chorus of “Odsonne Edouard isn’t committed” all over again. It is so unoriginal, so lazy, such an obvious cheap story for our media I knew they’d jump on it.
What do they have? Vapours. The vague idea that perhaps something is in the wind. As usual, they’ve drawn conclusions based on little evidence; just enough to get them their headline but not enough to actually merit a halfway decent article out of any of them.
Peter Martin’s weekend tweeting was the worst of course; he reckons he saw a “look” on Lennon’s face which convinced him that the manager isn’t happy with Eddie’s attitude. What nonsense these people talk at times. They see only what they want to in the moment.
Today’s Record “Jury” is another example of this, with all four of that desperate rags discredited hacks writing the exact same thing; none believes Edouard will be at Celtic at the end of the window supposing a big offer comes in for him.
Jackson, like Martin, has put two and two together and got five. He doesn’t believe Neil Lennon, or at least he’s suggesting that Lennon shouldn’t believe Edouard. He “has doubts.” Wow. That will be keeping people at Celtic Park up at night, won’t it?
Village Idiot Gavin Berry thinks people at Celtic “will be worried.” Honestly, these guys want to make up their minds. Because why should people at Celtic “be worried”?
We’re in total control of this process, and if an offer comes in for Eddie which is simply too good to refuse then nobody at Parkhead will think twice. Is Eddie worth the big bucks? Sure he is, but do we really need a £40 million striker to win ten in a row?
Assume Eddie will be gone this time next year, as most of us do.
If he goes a year early and we have a replacement lined up then I don’t think any of us will be terribly worried either way.
Look, I consider Edouard unsellable. If it was up to me I wouldn’t let him go for all the money in the world, but then I don’t have to balance the books at Celtic Park and my only concern, my only real concern, lies in whether we replace him with quality.
Berry thinks we’ll be “fearing a bid we can’t refuse” which is something of a misnomer, isn’t it? Why should we be scared to get an offer that’s literally too good to turn down? Honestly, how much thought goes into these sort of arguments? I’m sure this stuff sounds good in their heads but when it actually comes out, how do they have the brass neck to actually publish some of it? If Eddie wants to go, that’s different … but in those circumstances, we’re surely better off letting him leave than hanging on to a player whose head’s not in the game?
Either way, Celtic will do just fine, with a healthy profit to reinvest.
Scott Burns thinks we’ll be “genuinely worried” and then he, too, contradicts himself by saying the only thing we do have to be concerned about is a club meeting our valuation. Well, maybe it’s just me who wonders why that would worry Celtic in any way … if we’ve put a valuation on him at which we’d be willing to do business, why should it concern us if someone meets it?
And then there’s Gordon Parks, who derisively suggests that “No for sale” is not a term that has applied at Celtic Park for years. I’ve got news for him; it has never applied at Celtic Park and nor has it applied at most other clubs around the world. All have sold top players at times, against their wishes. Even Barcelona lost Neymar when they wanted to keep him.
The club across the city has never had a “not for sale” policy either; every one of its players has been available at the right price. The difference between them and Celtic is that we get the kind of offers which we believe are too good to turn down and they never do, which is why the Ibrox NewCo is yet to beat the £2 million fee they got for Josh Windass in 2018.
When the Ibrox board looks at the one at Celtic Park do you think they sneer that we’re a “selling club?” No, of course they don’t. They marvel at how easy we make it look to make big profits on our deals whilst still, somehow, managing to win trophies and titles.
When we lost Forster it was because he wanted to go back to England. Van Dijk had ambitions greater than the SPL. When we lost Dembele it was because he wanted to go to Lyon. When we lost Tierney it’s because he’d made up his mind that he was going to go to England and would have gone the year before. When we lost Wanyama it was after contract negotiations broke down and he made it plain he wasn’t signing a new deal.
When Ajer goes it will be for the same reason.
Does this make Celtic a “selling club”? Because we’ve kept McGregor in spite of English interest. We offered Dembele a new deal to stay. We’ve offered Eddie a new deal to do the same, and Ajer as well. As I said above, big Vic left when talks broke down on a new contract … this pattern doesn’t suggest to me that we couldn’t wait to get these guys out the door.
What we did was bow to the inevitable. These guys were going to leave, and we knew that the two options we had were to let multi-million pound assets walk for free or to cash on them when their value was at its highest, and we did the smart thing.
I’ve been saying for weeks that if we get an offer in the £15 million plus range for Ajer that we can’t say no and we should be taking the money and shipping him out. If we get an eight figure offer for Ntcham he, too, should be ushered out the door because although I love the guy I think we can replace what he currently offers us for less than we’d get for him.
A football team is an evolution, and this one of ours is in constant flux. We are the best run club in this league because we’re wholly realistic about where we play our football, and we can’t offer guys £100,000 a week and nor should we ever. I would change the wage structure at Celtic Park so we can keep our top players a little bit longer, but ultimately even the money isn’t going to keep top pros here when they know they can test themselves on a bigger stage.
The media seems to hold that against Celtic, as if it’s a simple matter of us showing the right level of ambition to keep these guys, which is utter bollocks as the hacks know full well.
What’s amazing, of course, is that this whole thing comes down to whether or not you believe the manager of Celtic when he says the club is simply looking out for a player who’s not wholly fit but who remains happy at the club, or whether you trust the words of a bunch of broken down “newsmen” who haven’t done real news in years if they ever have.
I know who’s word I’m taking on this. I know who I believe. At this moment in time our club has spent more than £15 million in the transfer market in this window, improving the squad in a very real way, and we have yet to sell a single top player in spite of a constant drum beat of rumours and stories and speculation that we were on the brink of doing just that.
The stated policy of the club, as espoused by Neil Lennon, is that we are not looking to receive offers for any of the top players … they aren’t for sale. Which isn’t to say they wouldn’t be sold if clubs offered mental money for them. That remains true not just of our footballers but almost everything in our lives; is there anything you own you wouldn’t be willing to give up if somebody offered you an insane amount to take it off your hands?
This is simple economics, and to think we’re in some kind of unique position or that it represents hardship that we have assets others might like to buy … this is the one of the most deranged and stupid arguments being made in Scottish football today.
Look across the city for real hardship. They’ve spent a fortune when they didn’t have money to spend. If they go out of Europe this midweek the need to sell some of their dross is going to be critical, and the only players they have who anyone might want to buy are those they absolutely cannot afford to lose if they want to maintain a title challenge. In case the hacks haven’t noticed, nobody is interested in meeting their over-inflated demands.
Could we survive without Eddie? Of course we could. As has been pointed out, he’s missed league games this month which we’ve somehow managed to win. In case it’s escaped the attention of the hacks Albian Ajeti looks like the Real Deal and I think is on course to outscore every player in the league in this campaign … and then there’s Lennon’s most important comment of the window so far, which he also made at the weekend and which we shouldn’t ignore.
That if we do sell Eddie it won’t be a last minute thing, and our Plan B is already in place.
I take heart from that, if from nothing else.
For the record, I don’t believe for one minute that we’ll need the Plan B … I don’t think Eddie is going anywhere. He, his agent, the manager and all the people who matter have said he’s here for ten in a row and I’m still taking their word for it over anybody else’s.
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