Has Paulo Bernardo Earned a Summer Move to Celtic?

The loan-to-buy model is something that has been incredibly successful for Celtic over the last few years. Whilst there have been some that have failed, the overwhelming successes of the signings of Odsonne Edouard from Paris-Saint Germain, Jota from Benfica and Cameron Carter-Vickers from Tottenham Hotspur have meant that using this ‘try before you buy’ system is something Celtic will look to continue to use further in the future.

The most recent example of a ‘loan-to-buy’ signing is 21-year-old Paulo Bernardo. The Portuguese midfielder signed on loan from Benfica in the summer with an option to buy at the end of the season, with the fee in that contract rumoured to be similar to the £6million Celtic paid for Jota in the summer of 2022.

With Jota, it was clear for all to see that Celtic had to activate the release clause for the winger. With Paulo Bernardo, there is a bit more hesitancy from supporters despite his current status as a first-team starter.

The question is, has Paulo Bernardo done enough to earn a move to Celtic in the summer?

Slow Start to Life in Glasgow

When Bernardo signed for Celtic on deadline day, there was always going to be lofty expectations and unrealistic comparisons made due to the success of Jota who came to the club before him from Benfica.

So when he didn’t hit the ground running in a similar fashion to the mullet-wielding winger, worries may have arisen that he was nothing but a dud, with this writer even suggesting on the ACSOM bulletin that he would most likely head back to his parent club in January due to a lack of playing time.

Rodgers would call upon him occasionally in the first few months, surprisingly favouring him in the Champions League rather than the cinch Premiership.

It seemed like he was getting lost in the shuffle, but he finally began to prove himself towards the tail-end of 2023.

The Turning Point

Nothing can earn a Celtic player the adoration of the support quite like scoring in a derby match against Rangers. Matches against Rangers really are make or break. Play poorly, and your Celtic career could be over, but have a starring performance and it can see you earn a new lease of life at the club.

Paulo Bernardo did just that, lashing home a brilliant opener that sent Celtic Park into raptures.

He built upon that with a great performance in Paisley the following week as he grabbed two assists. There may have been worries that the winter break has slowed down the momentum he was building, and whilst that may partly be true, Bernardo’s performances have still been passable since the turn of the year.

Room for Improvement

Bernardo has recently dropped out of the team due the manager changing the shape of the team, but will he be able to break back into the fold.

The return of Reo Hatate will only push him further down the pecking order, so this second-half of the season will be vitally important for Paulo Bernardo.

He still has plenty to prove to earn a £6million move, and if he can perform like he did against Rangers on a consistent basis, he should be a player Celtic are looking at in the summer.

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