Ryan Christie put speculation to one side the other day when signed a contract extension with Bournemouth. And what was the speculation?
That he might return to Celtic Park. Man, I have no idea where that story came from in the first place. It was not realistic. He’s on megabucks down there and he was not coming back here to play for less.
Ryan Christie left Celtic for money in the first place.
I’ve listened to every one of his protestations on this issue and none of them are remotely convincing. Bournemouth is the club he wanted to play for? Really? He likes the seaside, does he? He’s repeated this so many times that he long ago started to sound like someone trying to convince himself rather than us.
But he went for the cash, and that truth has never been very far beneath the surface. And I don’t mind that, not really, only all the dancing around it. Knowing it, I was under no illusions that his coming back here was ever a realistic prospect and it’s one of those stories that seemed to come out of nowhere with no reasoning behind it.
I like Ryan Christie as a footballer, a hell of a lot at that and I liked the way he stayed committed right until the moment he was no longer at Parkhead.
What I liked about his last three months at the club was that he gave everything under Ange and looked as if he fitted right into the system.
It’s a rare thing that a player in the last months of his deal gives you anything like his best, but I thought Christie was superb in those closing stages of his Celtic career, after he’d gone backwards under Lennon to the point where it was a standing joke that his instructions were “run then shoot!”
Christie, on his game, is a terrific player, really exciting to watch, and so if the chance had come for us to take him back, I would not have objected one bit.
His best football was under Rodgers; he showed himself to be a great attacking weapon in the right system and he would slot back into this team like a hand in a glove. I just didn’t think it would happen.
He’s a regular down there.
He has played more than 70 games in the last two and a half seasons and I would have been amazed if he didn’t extend his deal.
Even if he hadn’t, I think he’s good enough that he’d have had other offers in England. The only way he was coming back here is if he genuinely missed the club and the city and wanted to come back.
I have no doubt that Ryan Christie has great memories of Celtic, but it’s the same as with Kieran Tierney; these guys have moved on, they’ve tasted the big bucks and they want more of that.
I think Tierney would have come back in the summer if he’d not got the offer from Spain but that was as much to do with his simply wanting to play as it was with wanting to come back to us.
I don’t mind that these lads have a thirst for the lifestyle, that’s what they deserve for how hard they work on their talent and the discipline they show to stay in shape; there’s a mentality involved which is just as important as skill and these guys have made good on it all.
I don’t grudge them a second of it, but in almost every case it will put them out of our reach. As long as these lads have such options, we’ll not get near them.