You would have been a brave man to predict that a recall (only due to suspension), to play in a Scottish Cup tie against Albion Rovers at Airdrie’s Excelsior Stadium would lead to six trophies and a third place finish at a World Cup.
It did for Dedryck Boyata.
That freezing January afternoon saw the first small steps of what has become the beginning of the Belgians upward trajectory and one that rocketed when he stepped on to the pitch in the impressive Olympic Stadium in Sochi on Russia’s Black Sea coast.
The bad news for Celtic was that he was in the final year of his contract and had made no decision on signing the deal that was on the table for him. The World Cup spotlight had alerted clubs to his talents and his agent knew it.
Ronny Deila brought the player to the club. The talent took a while to shine his former manager explains the reasons for this on the most recent A Celtic State Of Mind Podcast:
“Everyone could see the ability of Boyata but you have to understand it is all about experience. He was 24 or 25 when he came to Celtic but he had only played 5 games or something for Manchester City and had no experience of the first team.”
We have an article on the site that looks at Man City’s model and the future of such agreements and how they benefit Celtic. It’s a model that we have benefited from no mistake and will continue to benefit from but maybe not as profitable as before.
We are dealing with global eco-systems that are set up solely for in-house profit and to circumnavigate financial fair play rules. The changing face of these agreements can be seen in fees paid for Olivier Ntcham and Odsonne Eduoard with both selling clubs already putting in sell on clauses.
Boyata struggled due to the sheer weight of numbers in City’s system. The player is now at his peak age and is playing to his peak potential that saw Man City identify him in the first place. That is down the player’s hard work in training and on the pitch but also minutes on the pitch. Deila continued:
“He had to play every week and that takes time, so for me its not about age but it’s about how many games under his belt and he had almost nothing. Now, hes got a lot of experience with Celtic and the national team but his potential was very easy to see.”
The current Celtic first team squad has thirty three first team players. Many of those players will have less than twenty first team starts. The current argument about Jack Hendry is that he is not a young player at twenty three.
I would counter with Ronny’s argument that the player has played very little minutes at clubs who genuinely believed in his ability. He was signed after a great six months at Dundee but a quick look at his past sees a player who lacks the experience to step in and be a first team pick. Brendan Rodgers has admitted as much.
For players to flourish they need games and only after games can we judge them. They need rhythm and understanding of systems and challenges. For me you are not talking about a game here and there but a consistent run of games.
The chances are we will see Boyata leave in January. The club and the player have handled the situation badly. The player is at the top of his game at the moment and is looking to make up for the lost time he spent in Manchester.
The World Cup gave him a taste of the big footballing world out there but we gave him the seat at that dinner table.
Listen to the full Ronny Deila with A Celtic State Of Mind Podcast below