Midway through the season, myself and the team at Endless Celts had a discussion about Christopher Jullien and what this summer held for him. The general feeling was that the club should retain his services for the campaign.
The reason was simple; he is a fine footballer when fit and available and motivated, and whatever we’d get for him in his final year of his deal would simply not be worth what it would cost to buy a player of similar quality. We assumed that he would play some role in the team towards the end of the season, and thus make that an easy decision.
Two things happened which changed things.
The first was the form of Starfelt and Carter Vickers, which made them impossible to leave out of the team and the second was that as soon as the league was won Jullien ran to the press and bitched out the boss.
That was the real game-changer.
But for that, I think we would still be debating the merits of keeping him around. If he isn’t prepared to sort out his differences with Ange then that’s moot because the gaffer will simply not stand for that sort of dissent.
Yet something has happened overnight which may have changed things again; Carl Starfelt’s injury playing for Sweden.
Whilst not the disaster that the media is trying to make out, if he’s absent for the start of pre-season training, and in particular the early pre-season games, then there are real opportunities for others to stake their claim.
And Jullien should understand that, and sort things out with the manager. It’s to his own benefit too because even if he and Celtic come to a mutual agreement and a contract termination, what’s his next move going to look like?
It won’t be to the sort of team he wants or for the kind of money that he’s worth. The only way to get back to that is to show people what he can do, and with a year left at Parkhead and Champions League games coming up what a chance he has.
You’ll have heard that the Chinese symbol for crisis is an amalgam of the symbols for danger and opportunity.
If Celtic have lost Starfelt for an extended period, then the opportunity is obvious.
Jullien is a fine footballer.
Not one of us would have any concerns about seeing him fully fit and playing alongside Carter Vickers.
If he is smart he will seize this chance. He won’t be alone in vying for it.
Osaze Urhogide will be returning from Belgium barring a major change over there, and we will almost certainly bring in at least one centre back in addition to the current squad. Stephen Welsh will see this as his moment, and so will some of the other young players.
But that opportunity is there just the same, for whomever grabs it and Jullien needs it as much as any of them do. He should do everything he can to make it his, and write the ending to his story at Celtic that we’d all love, and which his previous form deserves.