The Jota departure was significant both for the money on offer and because it came out of left-field.
As I said in a piece a couple of weeks ago, when I was on the Graham Spiers podcast recently Paul Brennan reported that people inside Celtic were confident of hanging onto our best players in the face of English clubs who think our players lack physicality.
Not so with foreign clubs, as the Saudis have ably demonstrated.
This is why the stories about Abada being linked to Sporting Lisbon and Ajax were just believable enough to ring alarm bells. Softly, mind, because a lot of us do expect him to leave in this window, but ringing them just the same. I wouldn’t have been surprised if that interest was real.
But at least one of those clubs, the Portuguese side, has knocked the story on the head.
I wonder if Ajax might be leery of signing a player from this league for the moment after what happened last time they did that.
Having just coined in a transfer fortune we do not need the money, and Abada can find a new lease of life under Rodgers … so I can see the noise dropping on that one quite a bit.
As unsurprised as I’d be if he left, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he suddenly signed a new deal and committed himself to the cause for a couple more years.
Rodgers has sufficient gravitas that this is not impossible.
A few players at Celtic were wavering on their futures before he arrived the first time. That Kyogo has been so swiftly locked up in golden handcuffs shows that the magic touch is still there. Players want to see what this man can do, they want to see what level we’re going to get to.
The latest player who looks to be moving inch by inch towards staying in spite of serious interest from elsewhere is Hatate. His agent poured cold water on any prospect of moving to Saudi Arabia like Jota. The media perversely points to Gerrard as the proof that it could happen, but that’s a daft comparison and they must know it.
Hatate could play anywhere. Gerrard is already a busted flush.
As my good mate said to me yesterday, he’s too arrogant to drop a division and work in the Championship and if that’s his only option, or at least his best option, he might as well go where the big money is instead. His dream of managing Liverpool is in ashes. Those of us who watched him flounder at Ibrox, pissing away tens of millions in the process, always knew it was a joke.
His one success, his assistant manager has nicked the credit for.
He lasted half a season in the white hot spotlight of the EPL. The famous name is no longer enough to open doors that would otherwise be closed to a guy with a poor CV.
Hatate knows the big move, and the big money, will be there for him in the next couple of years if he does it right. He knows Saudi Arabia, at his age, is virtually terminal to the prospects of a top class career of the sort which is within his reach now. He’s smart enough to bide his time and wait for a good European offer.
It might come in this window, and in which case we have a big task on our hands to convince him to stay. But it might not come and it might not be sufficiently enticing when it does … Celtic will almost certainly offer him a new deal, to make sure.
I strongly suspect that with Kyogo having committed and Maeda pretty settled and relaxed, that he’d sign it. He certainly says all the right things, he does not sound like a man with the departure lounge on his mind.
Cameron Carter Vickers is the other unsellable asset, and the truth of it is – and I am loathe to write these words, but they are truth – he got injured at exactly the right time. That operation has put him out of contention until the season starts, and by then most clubs will already have made their plans and so I reckon we’ve got him for this campaign and, if Rodgers likes the cut of his jib, he’ll be the next to get a big contract offer from the club.
Johnston’s going no place. He’s right at home here and dying for a crack at Europe. Callum, of course, is built in with the bricks. The rest of the squad? We could replace them and I include Matt O’Riley, although I think under Rodgers he would blossom into the absolute machine we all see glimpses of. Likewise, with Oh, who I see genuine flashes of utter class in … he’s not yet got the status Kyogo has, but by God I’d like to keep him.
But losing those guys wouldn’t be heart-breaking. We know who the key players are and who we most need to convince to stay, at least for one more year, and I think the signs are generally positive on that front. We’re certainly not in bad shape.
The media’s big hope, of course, was that one of two scenarios would unfold; in the first, Ange Postecoglou raided our team for his Spurs rebuild. I never thought that was remotely likely to happen. He might have wanted to, but decisions like that are above his pay grade down there, a fact he will very soon realise the stark implications of.
The other scenario was that his departure started a rush for the exits. That no longer looks quite as likely as they had hoped, and they can take no crumbs of comfort from the Jota deal because that was a thunderbolt from a clear sky and other than an offer on those sorts of terms I am fully confident that he would have stayed another year.
The Kyogo decision has stunned some of them. It’s changed the picture significantly. If Hatate and others commit for the coming season then even the dumbest, bitterest hack will see the writing on the wall; a newly minted Celtic, strengthened by the signings of some quality players whilst retaining the guts, the heart and soul, of the current squad.
It’s that which scares some of them the most, as they were already sharpening their pencils in anticipation of writing down the reasons why their favourite club, fresh from its “revolution” were title stick-ons whilst Celtic floundered in crisis.
You can get a sense of how keen they were for that by the “chaos” headlines surrounding our decision not to go to Korea. In the absence of a real crisis, this is their manufactured version.
It’s pathetic, it really is. But it’s also a backhanded compliment. Because this is what we’ve already reduced them to. Which is an encouraging thought.
So the craziness is starting to die down a bit, as Rodgers takes over and starts to impose his own discipline on the team. Our former boss had one way of doing things, and he has another but he’s the kind of manager who commands respect and inspires commitment and those things are all to the good, and will be important as we move forward.
We’re entering calm waters.
If the media lets us.
Which of course, they won’t.
Still, I wonder if we’re not going to sail on smooth seas regardless of what garbage they try to put in our path. As I said yesterday, week one was a big success although they tried to paint it somewhat differently. What a start we’ve already had to this one, with Kyogo signing up.
A signing or two before the weekend … man, that will really send them over the edge.