How should Ange Postecoglou strengthen his Celtic side this summer?

The summer transfer window of 2022 could potentially become a very prosperous but also a very tricky transfer window for the big decision-makers at Celtic Football Club.

Although the controversially swift appointment of Michael Nicholson as Chief Executive, thus replacing Dominic McKay, didn’t seem as much of a worry amongst the Celtic faithful for too long, as soon as performances on the field started to take a turn for the better. (Most would agree, the narrow – but vital – 2-1 win up at Pittodrie at the beginning of October was the turning point of the season).

This is most likely down to fact that Ange’s blueprint was starting to take hold on the players. His philosophy and vision was no longer appearing alien to the squad and they were gradually getting used to his style of play.

Also, a key element was how Celtic were conducting their business in the background. We are all aware of how the much-loved Greek-Aussie manager has been allowed to pursue sought-after players in quick and efficient fashion.

After Nicholson’s instalment, he seemed quite lenient in allowing Ange to identify targets, who’d thereafter be swiftly in the door. The signatures of Maeda, Hatate, Ideguchi and O’Riley have been evidence of this. Three of those deals being done before the window had even started.

It does look as though the Celtic board have learned from a lot of previous, fatal mistakes this term (compared to last season). That may divide opinion or be a touchy subject, maybe next season will give us a better idea.

Nevertheless, a potential transfer calamity could well occur this summer and it’s important that the dilemma is sorted out sooner rather than later during the pre-season or else we might have de’ja vu on our hands. This dilemma concerns our centre halves…

A strong favourite for this season’s Player of The Year is on-loan centre-half, Cameron Carter-Vickers. The man has undoubtedly been key to a lot of Celtic’s success. His winner at Ibrox summed up what a great season he’s having. Credit must be also given to Carl Starfelt, who has looked a lot more settled the longer the season goes on.

However, the question that is on everyone’s lips over the last few weeks has been – Will CCV sign permanently?

The sooner we get to the end of the season, the more uncertain we seem to get with the situation regarding the loaned-in players. When we study it, it only makes sense for CCV and also Jota to both extend their stays in Glasgow due to the excellent season the pair are having.

But when we focus on the centre-half position, we have a one-time fan favourite seemingly left out in the cold.

Im talking, of course, about Chris Jullien.

Until last season, before his bad injury, the big Frenchman was one of the first names on Neil Lennon’s team-sheet. He was a big player for us.

Big, tall, a good man to win his headers in Celtic’s penalty area whilst also being a massive threat in the opposition’s. Prime examples being his winners against Lazio in the Europa League and against Rangers in the League Cup final of 2019/20.

You could argue he was one of Celtic’s best centre-halves since the days of Virgil Van Dijk and Jason Denayer.

No doubt, Postecoglou has a few questions to answer surrounding this dilemma around the future of Chris Jullien, as he has simply not been in his plans since returning from injury.

The reason the Celtic board must tread carefully as we head into the summer is because we could potentially have another Fraser Forster / Craig Gordon scenario.

Forster had another exemplary season keeping goal for Celtic in the 2019/20 season. The English international was another big game player under Neil Lennon.

However, the way that situation was handled following Celtic’s second nine-in-a-row was nothing short of diabolical. The same uncertainty regarding Fraser Forster’s future is very similar to where we are with CCV this season.

Veteran shot-stopper Craig Gordon was let go and it should never have happened. Gordon, a man who has just been included in the PFA team of the year this season after another strong campaign with Hearts.

Two very important members of Celtic’s squad were allowed to leave and, consequently, due to negligence from the Celtic hierarchy, Celtic stumbled to reach immortality and ‘The 10’ was lost.

A genuine assumption for CCV delaying making his stay at Parkhead permanent could be whether Celtic play Champions League football next campaign. Perhaps then the American will be fully on board with the Ange regime… we will wait and see. However, if he doesn’t, Celtic must definitely have Chris Jullien wrapped up to come back into what is potentially a Champions League side.

In the landscape of the modern game, where good centre-halves are a rarity, it would be a huge blow if Celtic were to lose two of them.

Ian O’Sullivan

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