The Scotsman is reporting that Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers is ready to come to the aid of troubled Queens Park Rangers central defender Steven Caulker.
The 25-year-old has seen a promising career stall and stagnate since bursting onto the scene in 2011 and has recently revealed that he has been driven to the brink of suicide by severe alcohol and gambling addictions.
He joined Queens Park Rangers in the summer of 2014 for £8 million, but has struggled to retain a consistent place in the first team, despite the club dropping into the Championship.
Caulker remains a final lingering reminder of the club’s recent failures and has issued a ‘cry for help’.
Rodgers has revealed that he has spoken with Caulker, although he insists that discussions have been firmly focused on the player’s well-being and recovery, which opens up the opportunity for the former England international to move to Celtic Park.
A promising start to a career
Steven Caulker was once widely perceived as being one of the brightest, most promising young defenders in England.
Rising through the academy ranks at Tottenham Hotspur, the centre half possessed the technical and psychological qualities that perfectly complimented his imposing six foot three inch frame.
By 16 years of age, he was a regular feature in the under-18’s team and within eighteen months he was captaining the side on a regular basis, although a route into the first team remained out of reach. The club opted to send him out on loan order to gain first team experience with spells at Yeovil Town and and Bristol City providing Caulker with his first taste of the professional game.
However, it was not until 2011 that another spell out on loan provided Caulker with an opportunity to gain national recognition. Swansea City, then under the guidance of Brendan Rodgers, were preparing for their first season on the Premier League and opted to take the central defender on a season long loan.
The deal would be mutually beneficial and hugely successful for all concerned. Caulker became the mainstay of Swansea’s defensive unit, helping the club to an 11th place finish and receiving call-ups to Stuart Pearce’s Great Britain Olympic team and the senior England international side during 2012.
In November 2012 the central defender was handed his England debut in a friendly fixture against Sweden and got on the score sheet when he converted a Steven Gerrard free-kick. However, this would be the pinnacle of his career – he would not represent England again.
Drink, gambling and mental health
Steven Caulker was unable to force his way into the Tottenham Hotspur first team following his successful loan spell at Swansea City. The next four years saw him make big-money transfers to Cardiff City and Queens Park Rangers, with both moves ultimately ending in relegation and failure.
Short terms loan deals to Southampton and Liverpool during the 2015/16 season, an attempt by then relegated Rangers to remove the 25-year-old from the wage bill, were equally as unsuccessful. The one-time England international had suddenly become the unwanted man of English football.
In an honest, open interview with The Guardian, in June 2017, Caulker revealed that he had been battling mental health issues that had stemmed from severe drink and gambling addictions. He spoke of waking up in a prison cell after a heavy night of drinking, of frittering away thousands of pounds in casinos, and of anxiety, depression and self-loathing. He candidly admitted that he had been driven to the drink of suicide by his off field issues.
Football is still coming to terms with mental illness and Caulker’s story is a timely reminder of the struggles that many players undoubtedly have to face off the pitch away from the television cameras.
Light at the end of the tunnel
Steven Caulker’s current contract still has one year remaining, but Queens Park Rangers have made it clear that he no longer has a future with the club.
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers has refused to rule out a possible move for the central defender and a deal could suit all involved. It was under the Northern Irishman’s management at Swansea City that Caulker produced some of the best football of his career six years ago and the admission by The Hoops boss that he has already spoken to the 25-year-old indicates that a positive relationship still exists. R
odgers has a reputation for being excellent at man-management and his guidance could be hugely beneficial as the player looks to resolve his off-field issues.
A move could also be prompted by Celtic’s lack of defensive cover. The Hoops have already started their season as they face a Champions League qualifying tie against Linfield and Rodgers is keen to add further quality to his squad despite last season’s unbeaten domestic campaign. An injury to Dedryck Boyata, who has suffered knee ligament damage, leaves the current squad short of central defenders and Caulker, who has played 123 games in the Premier League, could fill the void.
Steven Caulker undoubtedly possesses an abundance of talent and experience of competing at the highest level, but personal issues have resulted in his career stalling. A move to Celtic, under the guidance of Brendan Rodgers, could provide him with the perfect opportunity to resurrect his footballing life.
Featured image all rights reserved Dan Westwell.
Celtic move for Angus Gunn would be perfect for club and player
The Manchester City youngster has been in fine form during a loan spell at Manchester City.
Celtic are being linked with a move for Manchester City goalkeeper Angus Gunn this summer.
The Sun report that both Celtic and Stoke City are interested in signing the young stopper.
Gunn, son of legendary Norwich City goalkeeper Bryan Gunn, has been forging his own reputation at Carrow road this season.
The 22-year-old is wanted on loan by Celtic for next season, with a view to a potential permanent move.
Considering Gunn has to find his way past Ederson to be City’s number one, a summer exit certainly seems likely.
For Gunn and for Celtic this would be a tremendous move, as Rodgers starts planning for life after Craig Gordon. The Scotland international is currently out of action with an injury.
Scott Bain arrived on loan from Dundee whilst Dorus de Vries is also present, but neither player is as talented as the City man.
Celtic, of course, have a good working relationship with City.
The likes of Jason Denayer and Patrick Roberts have previously joined the club on loan from the Etihad and Gunn would simply be following in their footsteps.
For the young stopper, it would represent an opportunity to play regular football at a high level. Not only would he be featuring in the Scottish top-flight, but also the Champions League.
Gunn is a young keeper with absolute bags of potential. But, to be honest, a future career at City just does not look plausible for the stopper.
A move to Celtic could easily become permanent, leaving Gunn potentially playing for one of the most historic clubs in Europe.
If Celtic come calling this summer, which they should do, Gunn must be on his way to Parkhead.
Sam Byram would be perfect Celtic target for summer
The right-back was linked with a move to Liverpool whilst a Leeds United player.
It would be fair to say that Sam Byram has not exactly enjoyed a good time at West Ham United.
Since his move from Leeds United in January 2016, he has struggled to find anything like his best form. Injuries have not helped matters either.
All in all, Byram has played just 36 times for the Hammers in the past two and a half season.
So, should Celtic offer him a way out this summer?
First of all, Brendan Rodgers is supposedly a fan. Back in April 2015, it was reported by the Daily Star that Byram was being tracked by Rodgers when Liverpool manager.
An £8 million deal for the player was mooted but nothing ever happened.
It would not be a surprise if Liverpool were interested. Byram was one of the hottest prospects in the Championship. West Ham won the battle for his signature a few months later, with Everton beaten into second. By this time, Rodgers was out of work. He had been sacked, with Jurgen Klopp the new Liverpool boss.
Now, Rodgers is at Celtic and the Bhoys need to sign a new right-back in the summer. Swedish defender Mikael Lustig has endured a tough season. His drop in form has certainly been one of the more alarming aspects of Celtic’s campaign.
In back-up, Celtic have Cristian Gamboa, who in all honesty cannot buy a game at Parkhead. After the Costa Rican, there is Anthony Ralston, one for the future at 19-years-old he is currently on loan at Dundee United.
Come the summer a new right-back recruit will be needed and Byram could be perfect.
The 24-year-old still has plenty to offer in his career and moving north of the border could be the perfect kickstart he has been looking for.
With Celtic needing a right-back, the pursuit of Byram would certainly make sense this summer.
After Scotland call-up should Celtic bring Dylan McGeouch back for third spell
The Hibernian midfielder has been in fine form this season.
Alex McLeish’s first Scotland squad since returning to the national team role threw up a few surprises and first time call ups. Manchester United’s Scott McTominay was already known to be in the squad but he is joined by uncapped quintet Oli McBurnie, Barry Douglas, Jon McLaughlin, Scott McKenna and Dylan McGeouch. It is the latter that will be of particular interest to Celtic fans.
McGeouch has been in fine form under Neil Lennon at Hibernian this season. The 25-year-old has been running the show from midfield at Easter Road and catching the eye with his performances.
For Celtic, it is surely a regret to see him performing so well now. The midfielder spent eight years with Celtic, over two spells, as a youngster.
After making his first-team debut in November 2011 McGeouch spent time on loan at Coventry City and Hibernian, eventually making the latter permanent. After initially struggling with injury at Hibs McGeouch has made himself a regular and one of the best performing midfielders in the Scottish Premiership.
So should Celtic consider bringing McGeouch back?
It would be the third time McGeouch signed for Celtic. He left the club as a youngster, joining local rivals Rangers, before returning in 2011.
McGeouch is out of contract in the summer. As reported by the Scotsman in January, the midfielder is in no rush to sign anything regarding the new three-year extension. His patience could pay off. Celtic will no doubt regret letting McGeouch go now – seeing how well he has performed since the permanent switch to Edinburgh.
But he will be available on a free transfer and for Celtic it is essentially a no risk transfer if they manage to pry McGeouch away from Hibs.
If they did, it could be a case of third time lucky for the 26-year-old at Celtic Park.
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