Following Saturday’s disappointing 0-0 draw at home to St Johnstone, Montenegrin international Sead Hakšabanović took to social media with a less-than-cryptic dig at Brendan Rodgers and the club as a whole.
The 33-times capped winger wrote on his Instagram account:
“If they don’t see your value maybe you’re not at the right place”
The post came less than 24 hours after Hakšabanović made his 42nd appearance in the hoops and his 30th off the bench. With rumours already circulating that Hakšabanović has been told to find a new club, Sunday’s Instagram post would seem to inch him closer to the exit door.
Signed just over a year ago by Ange Postecoglou, Sead Hakšabanović has endured a disappointing time at Celtic. A player with undoubted natural talent, Hakšabanović failed to nail down a starting spot last season under the Australian. A mixture of injuries at the wrong time and an inability to perform from the start resulted in the Montenegrin falling behind Jota, Maeda, and Liel Abada in the pecking order.
A return of 5 goals and 4 assists left him trailing in the wake of his rivals for a starting berth and, a glittering November aside, he has done very little to merit a real claim for more minutes on the park.
I say this as a frustrated fan of Hakšabanović. For me, he is a talented player with an ability to unlock defences and a fondness for a curling effort when cutting in from the left. However, his lack of consistency has been startling. His performances on the park have not merited additional game time or the responsibility of being a starter for Celtic.
If Sead feels that he is not valued at Celtic, despite the chances he has been afforded to impress, then now is the perfect time for him to find another club. Celtic will not mourn his departure.
Toxicity of social media
Hakšabanović is not the first Celtic player to take to social media to express their unhappiness with life at the club. Both Chris Julien and Giorgos Giakoumakis have done likewise in recent seasons, posting updates on social media designed to engineer moves away from the club. There seems to be an increasing trend (across football as a whole, and not just at Celtic) for players to vent their frustrations through social media rather than keeping them within the club.
From the perspective of the club, this is something that needs to be addressed quickly to avoid any further unrest in the camp. We have already seen a host of current players liking Hakšabanović’s post – Alexandro Bernabei, Rocco Vata, Oh, and Bosun Lawal – which will undoubtedly lead to speculation of a split in the dressing room.
While it is plausible that the players have simply liked a teammate’s post without properly looking at it, it is hard to look past the probability that there is an element of toxicity within the Celtic dressing room at the moment.
Neither Alexandro Bernabei nor Rocca Vata have featured much, or at all in Vata’s case, in the early games this season. It is therefore likely that they share Hakšabanović’s sentiments and feel undervalued in the current set-up.
If that is the case then Brendan Rodgers will need to act fast to root out the dissenters in the dressing room, with the help of his experienced pros, and restore harmony.
What can Celtic do to manage social media output?
While the club cannot control every post that goes out on a player’s personal account, there must be more diligence taken to ensure that these potentially damaging occurrences do not continue. If not already in place, Celtic should give consideration to providing social media training and guidelines to players outlining what is deemed as acceptable use of such platforms.
It may not be possible to stop players going rogue like Hakšabanović or even making disrespectful posts towards fellow players like Odin Holm after the recent victory at Pittodrie. However, implementing some kind of additional filter, be it through an out-sourced social media management company, may help reduce the frequency and impact of such derailing posts.
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