I do not believe that Celtic will sign Lawrence Shankland in this window, and nor do I believe that we should sign Lawrence Shankland in this window, although if it was a choice between someone who had his scoring record and some left-field “development” punt I would accept him as the alternative any day of the week, because we know he does score goals.
Shankland is one of those guys that you’d have to sell me on as a Celtic player, but you might not have to work too hard at it. He’s not the “next level” footballer that we require and he never will be, but I have never doubted that he – or Miovski at Aberdeen – could win us this title, because they are proven at this level and really that’s all we need in this window.
But we have to be thinking beyond the here and now, and towards a player who can challenge Kyogo to be the number one at the club and I know that’s not Shankland although who knows how good Miovski can be if he’s at a good club? He’s at the start of his career after all, and I reckon will eventually be a far better player than the Hearts man.
There are reasons why I would sign Shankland and there are reasons – more reasons, and better reasons – why I would not. But you know what’s not on the list either way? His footballing allegiance. It’s completely irrelevant to me, and it would be for most people including, I suspect, Brendan Rodgers if he decided that this guy was good enough.
Yet everywhere I turn I see or read some variation of this fiction; that Shankland is “one of them” and so we would not sign him. Or that other theory which has been disproved more times than I care to count, that because he’s inclined towards their club that he would not sign for us. There are a handful of players for whom that has been the case, including Lafferty, but they are the exception to the rule. There has always been talk about Scott Brown and even some about Callum McGregor but I neither know nor care and neither do they.
Kenny Dalglish was a Rangers fan. That man will forever be one of the iconic figures in the history of this club, and even his brief spell as the managing director or whatever in God’s name he was will not change that. Danny McGrain. Murdo McLeod. Paul Lambert allegedly. Davie Provan definitely was. There are more, I could go on all day … the thing is, this has never been a barrier to us signing players and nor has it been a barrier for players who have signed for us.
If Shankland was offered the chance, I reckon he’d jump at it. The only thing that would stop him from joining us would be bigotry, and if he’s a bigot then there’s nothing to talk about and we’d be well shot of him anyway. That, ironically, might be enough to spark Ibrox into finally making their move. That might just be the last piece of the jigsaw for them.
But those who have suggested that his football allegiances are some barrier to us moving to sign him could not be more wrong. He’s just not good enough to be a Celtic player. He’d score goals but so what? Any player capable of putting the ball in the net regularly will score in a Celtic strip, but we need someone capable of moving us forward and this is a guy who can’t get into the national team on a regular basis far less a Champions League side.
People like Mark Wilson, who have led the way with the promotion of this stuff, clearly don’t know their Celtic history. If Shankland was up to the job we’d have made the offer for him before he even went to Hearts. We’re not just finding out about this guy now; he was scoring goals for fun in Scotland long before arriving at Tynecastle.
And we have seen what we need to and we’re not convinced. That’s the fact of it, and because we are not convinced we’re not going to move for him, and that has nothing to do with what team he supports. If we thought he was good enough he’d be at Celtic Park already. If we worried about whatever team he made support Celtic Park would be a different place with a whole different history. A lesser one, by quite some way.