Yesterday, when I wrote my piece on Barkas, I thought we might well have included a right-to-buy clause in the deal, naming a specific fee. News today suggests that this is not the case, and actually that makes nothing but good sense.
Remember, earlier in the week the media’s story was that we were ripping the contract up. Now, Celtic has already accepted, more or less, that we’re going to lose money on this guy, but short of a mutual termination there was no chance – in spite of what a handful of Ibrox social media goons were gloating about – of us simply letting him walk.
I thought a mutual termination might be a goer. But in fact, Barkas is just a little too good between the sticks, just as Ajeti is a little too good in front of goal. Even if the Swiss striker doesn’t get a permanent move, expect him to leave on loan. And as with this deal, don’t be surprised if the club doesn’t want a future fee agreed in advance.
Because the big “what if?” question haunts this thing; what if these guys go and prove that they are worth something after all? Not so much to Celtic; they both seem to be well out of the plans at this club. But in general? Worth some club paying a fee for.
That’s why there’s no right-to-buy fee here. If Barkas goes and re-establishes himself as a force, if he goes and plays brilliantly and wins back his place in the Greek national team, that’s a guy with a year left on his Celtic deal and we have a shot at recouping a large chunk of that money back. Ajeti can go to some club somewhere and prove he’s still a goal-scorer.
And in those circumstances, you’ve got a shot at getting something for him.
I’m not saying these guys will net us millions, but that’s not impossible. Both are decent performers who just wandered onto the wrong film set. Barkas is the unluckier of the two. Ajeti has flopped badly at two clubs now, West Ham and ours, but there remains a footballer in there who can still find his feet and head back up the ranks of the game.
Barkas is 28. That’s still relatively young for a keeper. (Ibrox is negotiating with a 40-year-old.) Ajeti is a ridiculously young 25 still … he got his move to the EPL when he was just out of his teens, that guy has a long way to go before he can be written off. If goes somewhere and has a storming season we’ll get some of that money back at the very least.
Neither of them will make it at Celtic now. Everyone accepts that in the same way it’s accepted that Ismaili Soro won’t; he’s another guy who still has it all in front of him and I think he’s a far better player than his detractors would have you believe.
He’s another who will leave in this window, whether on loan or not. If it is a loan, once again don’t expect there to be a right-to-buy agreement as part of the deal. Because he’s 24, his contract doesn’t expire until 2024 and business could yet be done there.
Every club has these sorts of issues. To read the press sometimes you’d think we were the only one. One newspaper has written a half dozen stories on “the players Celtic have to move on” since the season ended. Guess what though? They were all at the club last season, and many of them played bit-part roles in the title triumph … their presence did us no harm at all, and that was in a season where we signed eighteen players.
Obviously, this club would not wish to keep on with that large a wage bill … a clear-out this summer was always inevitable, but it will be done right, it will be done strategically, it will be done with the hope that we can make some money along the way.
That’s why there will be no agreed fees beforehand; if these guys can go out there and show what they’ve got, we’ve got a good chance of getting something decent for them.