We’re three games into a tough Champions League campaign and whilst the results haven’t been great the performances have offered a tantalising glimpse of “what if?” And the “what if?” comes down to a simple thing; what if we can keep this team together?
In theory, and in principle, is should be perfectly feasible for next year and possibly even the one after that. Celtic is in a strong position, with a stronger negotiating hand than it has had in quite some time.
The decision to give all of our top players contract extensions – and Rodgers’ ability to get those players to sign them – has been a real lift to the club.
The value of this team is probably astronomical. Just when you think you’ve seen it all from them there’s more.
Kyogo’s valuation has soared since the start of the season. Two Champions League goals have made him a star like never before. Matt O’Riley could go for a sum which might have paid off Rangers’ debt to HMRC and saved the club. Hatate, Maeda, Johnston, Carter Vickers … and Luis Palma is certainly already making headlines.
Other clubs would kill for such high-value commodities.
Bankable assets are nice to have, even with a huge sum of money sitting in your account already. Sure, we could flog Matt O’Riley for £25 million and be pretty chuffed with that business … but he’s worth more.
He’s worth more, right where he is right now; on the pitch and scoring goals. If we win this title and get into next season’s groups, and he wins us even a handful of games that’s worth more than any fee a club in England is going to pay us, and he’s just one example.
Next season, we have eight Group Stage games.
Two will be against Pot 1 teams. Two will be against Pot 2 sides. There will be two against Pot 3 teams and two against our fellow Pot 4 clubs … that means that four of those games will be demonstrably winnable ties.
Furthermore, because we’ll play one Pot 1 team at home and the other away, home form is going to be huge and our two home games so far have seen very good performances which suggest we can hold our own even against the best.
The new Champions League format will be untidy and I think for a time unpopular … but if we win a few games in it, you’ll see that change minds quickly. If it becomes obvious that it’s going to work out for us, I think you’ll see a change in attitudes all round.
The money to be made just getting there is big enough.
But the cash for a win right now is £2.4 million and that number is going up for the next campaign in line with every other fee. So you can see how important it is to go into that tournament with a settled squad and one that we know can perform at that level … and these guys can.
Eight games minimum with the possibility of a two-leg play-off for a place in the knockout rounds, and if points for a win in the groups are lucrative, I can only imagine what that or – in the real Wow scenario – automatic qualification would be worth.
Celtic has it all in front of them, and there’s a reason these guys are all so highly rated, and frankly we shouldn’t be focussed on what we might get by selling them but on what we might get by keeping this team in one piece. That’s the real prize.
That might even be where the really big money is.