Celtic may have just been handed a boost in their hopes of retaining the services of Fraser Forster beyond this summer.
The 6ft 7in goalkeeper was frozen out at Southampton but his loan switch back at Parkhead saw him show what he’s really capable of, not to mention giving his career a new lease of life and helping Celtic to yet more glory.
Forster made 39 appearances for Neil Lennon’s side this term prior to football being suspended, and delivered plenty of superb performances, in particular his masterclasses against Lazio at Celtic Park and against Rangers in the Scottish League Cup final.
With Ralph Hasenhuttl having signed a new deal at Southampton which takes him to the summer of 2024, the Austrian is at St Mary’s for the long haul – which could potentially have an effect on Forster’s future at the English south coast club.
Alex McCarthy and Angus Gunn are ahead of Forster in the Saints pecking order, and there’s no reason to suggest that Hasenhuttl would immediately elevate his current third-choice above those two, so the Hoops loanee could well be considering his long-term options.
Likewise, if Hasenhuttl sees Forster as surplus to his requirements, he could look to cash in – that said, with the market expected to be much more frugal this summer, it would make more sense to loan him out again, keep his value high and cash in when the market has picked up a bit.
If another loan move isn’t on the cards, then there could be another way which could make the most of one of Hasenhuttl’s reported long-term plans to seal the future of a player that Lennon is reportedly “desperate” to have in the Hoops ranks next season.
From a financial perspective, Celtic would have struggled to buy Forster outright on top of being able to pay him close to his reported £90,000-a-week wages, but with Southampton reportedly wanting to sign Olivier Ntcham (The Scottish Sun), that could see a huge reduction in any transfer fee for Forster.
Obviously Forster would most likely have to accept a wage reduction, but given Ntcham’s departure would free up £35,000-a-week, this would also be a boost for Celtic in terms of how much they could offer the £10million Englishman.