It is fair to say that Celtic have not hit the heights that they experienced last season, when Brendan Rodgers took the nation by storm in his first season in Scottish football to lead his boyhood club to an emphatic unbeaten domestic treble.
The bar was set extremely high after 2016/2017, and was always going to be difficult to match, and to give the team credit they have still only lost two league games this season and look on course to win a second domestic treble in a row; a stunning achievement in itself.
Nevertheless, the Hoops must look to strengthen in the summer as they prepare to go again next term, looking to seal a third domestic treble, delve further into European competition and, most importantly, stretch their run of consecutive league victories to eight, bringing them within two of the much sought after 10-in-a-row.
Some areas of the pitch require strengthening more than others, and here are three players the Bhoys should definitely be considering when the window opens in just over a month.
The goalkeeping position is one that has caused Celtic major stresses this season. Following an injury to Craig Gordon, Dorus de Vries was exposed as being an inadequate backup option as a number of shaky performances led to him being dropped, requiring Scott Bain to be brought in on loan.
Next season, Gordon will start the campaign aged 35, and will swiftly turn 36 in December. Given his history with injuries, which have come back to haunt him this season, it would be foolish to solely put faith in a veteran of his age.
Marshall, 33, knows what it is all about to play in the green and white, having made his professional debut at the club and staying for around three seasons. During that time, he won four major trophies and was highly regarded by the fans, and he only moved on due to lack of playing time as Artur Boruc’s backup.
The Scotland goalkeeper would make a fine addition to the goalkeeping options, and would no doubt relish a move away from Hull City, where he is currently a bench-warmer.
Jason Denayer is another player who has a history of playing for Celtic, and similarly made his professional debut in the green and white back in 2014 while on loan from Manchester City. Still currently owned by the Premier League champions, Denayer is playing his football on loan at Galatasaray; his second spell in Turkey.
During his time at Celtic, the Belgian youngster developed into a fine centre-half, and would undoubtedly shore up the questionable Hoops defence that has caused them so much trouble throughout the season. At 22, Denayer has his whole career ahead of him and would be a great investment, even if he arrived with a sizeable price tag.
With over 110 games playing in Scotland, the Premier League and the Turkish top flight, Denayer is as experienced as they come at 22, and could be a great compliment to the taller and less agile Kristoffer Ajer in the heart of defence.
Manchester United youngster Demetri Mitchell joined Hearts on loan in January and looked terrific before picking up a season-ending injury that has since seen him return to England to receive treatment.
The young left-back made nine appearances for the Tynecastle club and looked completely unfazed as he was thrust into the starting line-up by Craig Levein. Having spent a decade in the United youth academy, Mitchell has a strong footballing pedigree and, with the Hoops looking to bring in a left-back to cover Kieran Tierney, the 21-year-old may be a perfect option.
With United most likely unwilling to part ways with their starlet on a permanent basis, perhaps a loan deal could be brokered, on a year-long or 18-month basis, similar to that of Patrick Roberts or Charly Musonda, to allow the youngster to come north of the border and enjoy a proper stint with a new team in the hope of aiding his development.
One year since £800k Celtic transfer collapsed, Rivaldo Coetzee still hasn’t played
The South African very nearly joined Celtic. But a toe injury nearly finished his promising career.
One year ago to the day it looked as though Celtic had secured a top young defensive talent. Ajax Cape Town announced that the young South Africa international Rivaldo Coetzee had agreed a deal to join Celtic.
The move was pending a medical and work permit, both of which were expected to be successful for Celtic.
It looked a fantastic deal. Considered one of the top young talents in Africa, the defender had won the player and player’s player of the year awards at Ajax CT the previous season.
Celtic would have paid a fee reported to be in the region of £800,000 for the player, according to Goal, and it looked a great piece of business.
However, the walls came crashing down around this deal.
As reported by the BBC a medical discovered an issue with Coetzee’s right foot and the plug was pulled on a transfer. Ten days later, with Ajax CT no longer a welcome environment he switched to fellow South African outfit Mamelodi Sundowns.
One year later and it would not appear Celtic made a mistake.
The problem with Coetzee’s medical was clearly more serious than first feared. One year later, and Coetzee has not played a single game since.
At the end of July, he returned to full training. The Times in South Africa reported recently that at one stage, the shockingly bad toe injury was threatening to end his career at just 21-years-old.
Celtic have no doubt dodged a bullet for now. But they should also keep track of his progress. He remains extremely young and equally as talented. If he can prove he is over his injury woes, maybe a return bid could be on the cards from Celtic.
Celtic must not be undercut on £25m Kieran Tierney asking price
Everton were willing to pay £18 million for the Celtic defender, with the club wanting £25 million.
Earlier this summer Celtic left-back Kieran Tierney looked like being on his way to Everton. The Scottish international was being earmarked as a potential replacement for the aging Leighton Baines.
However, when it came down to matching Celtic’s asking price, Everton would not meet the amount the Bhoys were after. As reported by The Scottish Sun, Celtic wanted £25 million for Tierney. Everton were only willing to go as high as £18 million and pulled out of a deal, signing Lucas Digne from Barcelona instead.
The report even claims Spurs are hoping to sign him at a cut-price deal of just £10 million, taking advantage of Celtic’s inability to qualify for the Champions League and the financial hit that caused.
Celtic must not budge on their high asking price for Tierney. He is an extremely talented left-back and the Bhoys would be selling themselves short, especially at just £10 million.
Perhaps there is wiggle room on a £25 million fee, but Celtic should not be taking a £15 million cut to move on their best talent.
Three ins and outs Celtic could complete this week
Crisis in Europe means that the pressure is on Celtic entering into the final full week of the transfer window for Scottish teams, with Brendan Rodgers looking for ways to strengthen his squad whilst also considering who may have to depart to balance the budget.
This could lead to some unexpected signings and departures, with these three some of those which may take place…
Kieran Tierney (Tottenham)
It seems unlikely a deal would go through this week, but the two clubs could come to an agreement ahead of a January move, particularly as the Mirror claim that the reason for the potential deal for just £10 million would be due to the club’s need to adjust budgets following Champions League failure.
Celtic will not want to sell the 21-year-old, particularly at such a low price, unless they really have to and it seems that the club’s situation is not quite that severe yet.
Douglas Luiz (Manchester City)
Brendan Rodgers was spotted at the Etihad to watch Manchester City face Huddersfield Town on Sunday and City Watch have speculated that his presence may have been to hold talks over a move for Douglas Luiz.
The Brazilian had a work permit application rejected to it is likely that he will leave the Citizens for elsewhere, but he could fulfill the requirements for SPL. Having spent last season on loan at Girona and with the good relationship between the two clubs, it could happen quickly.
Dedryck Boyata (Lyon)
The Scottish Sun stated that he was a target for Lyon, among several European clubs, earlier this summer but no deal has yet come to pass. A row over him declaring himself injured for a crucial fixture could prove to be the end of his Celtic career, whether his destination is Lyon or not.
“I had a long chat with Dedryck the other day. We have created a wee bit of distance from what happened last week. We will look at that over the weekend but Dedryck is still a Celtic player and I want to have him involved.”
Rodgers seems keen to retain his services though, so it could take an impressive offer in order to persuade him to part ways with the Belgian defender.
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