The Magnificent Seven has arrived. The most iconic strip at the club now has a new iconic footballer. That much is clear after a superb week for Luis Palma.
A goal at Motherwell, what should have been a Champions League match-winner, ruled out for offside, capped by a goal against Kilmarnock … home in the league, away in the league and on the biggest stage of all, Palma already looks like someone who will repay his transfer fee a hundred times over.
I wrote when he signed that when he was linked with a move to Ibrox in the early summer he was the one player I did not want them to get. A look at his stats told you that he was just what they needed and didn’t have; a wide player who could score goals and lay on assists with ease. He was clearly a cut above anyone else they were linked to.
The move never happened. He didn’t like the idea, or they couldn’t cobble the money together, or whatever it was. But their interest was very real and their fan-media outlets were very excited about it, and it was not difficult to understand why.
What I found amazing, and petty of them, was when we were linked with him and it became apparent that he was going to sign for us and their response was to deny they’d ever been interested in the first place. Their claim was risible.
They looked but decided not to proceed with a deal. I said at the time that they better hope their own signings were successful after making a claim like that because if he hit the ground running and they didn’t it was the sort of thing managers lost their jobs over … The Mooch was gone much more quickly than I thought.
Palma already looks like everything their new guys don’t. He’s slotted right in and looks dangerous every time he’s on the ball. He will score plenty, he will lay goals on, he will light up matches.
I was researching a story last week, which I’ll write in due course, where I came across a claim Jock Brown made about Jo Venglos trying to convince him to sign Lubo, and that story seems to me to fit Palma pretty well.
He told Brown that every great side needs three players in it who are capable of a moment of magic to turn a game. At the time Celtic only had one, in Larsson, and he felt that we needed another. Celtic has more than one; we have Hatate, Kyogo, O’Riley … when he’s fit Abada. But the clear need for another one has been met.
These kinds of players are so rare that you hold on tight when you find one. You certainly don’t scout one, let him get away and then diss him when your rivals swoop in to do what you’ve failed to. That is the height of stupidity, even if you are confident your own signings will work out. It did not take a genius to see how it could blow up in their faces.
The stronger Palma gets, and the greater the impact that he has, the more this contrast will haunt them. Their colossal mistakes over the summer have led to a bloated front line none of whom look worth a damn. There’s not even obvious re-sale value there, whereas you just know that Palma is going to draw interest from all over Europe when he is in his stride.
I think when people look back on this season Ibrox’s failure to sign Palma will go down as one of the landmark moments. It already seems like a colossal mistake, but the greater error in judgement might be boasting about their decision not to. No sane club would have done that. But then, we know we’re not dealing with the smartest kids in the class here.