The 4 signings from Ange Postecoglou’s second season who could shine for Brendan Rodgers

During Ange Postecoglou’s first year at Celtic, the quality of his recruitment was a major reason for the capture of a domestic double in the Australian’s debut season.

Having inherited a squad in drastic need of an overhaul, Ange dipped straight into a market he was familiar with, introducing European football to the talents of Kyogo Furuhashi, Daizen Maeda and Reo Hatate.

The rebuild also included the arrivals of Jota, Liel Abada, Carl Starfelt, Joe Hart, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Josip Juranovic, Giorgos Giakoumakis, and Matt O’Riley, as Ange quickly built a squad of players who instantly subscribed to his total football vision and ‘we never stop’ mantra.

With two trophies in the Parkhead cabinet, Ange went one better in his sophomore season with a domestic treble, but did the recruitment of his second campaign meet anywhere near the heights of his first?

The three loan deals that were made permanent (Maeda, Carter-Vickers and Jota) at the beginning of the season were all undeniably successful, and to sign both Carter-Vickers and Jota for over £6m each was a real statement of intent by the board.


However, of the other ten players recruited by Postecoglou, I think it’s fair to say we got a mixed bag. Here are half-a-dozen from both ends of the success scale:

Benjamin Siegrist was brought in after an impressive four-year spell at Dundee United, but he failed to push Joe Hart this season for a number of reasons. After playing two games in the League Cup, he was injured, then had to deal with some personal issues, which meant he was missing from the first-team squad for five months. With the contract of Vasilis Barkas being torn up, and Conor Hazard on his way to Plymouth Argyle, Siegrist seems like the natural back-up over Scott Bain from the keepers left at the club.

Alexandro Bernabei struggled to settle after his move from Argentina, playing just 10 minutes of Champions League football and making 12 domestic starts. He didn’t seem suited to the inverted full-back role favoured by Postecoglou, but equally failed to show enough defensive attributes to justify his hefty transfer fee of nearly £4 million.

Moritz Jenz and Oliver Abildgaard were drafted in on loan then quickly shipped out by Ange in the same season. Centre-half Jenz had his loan cut short by parent club FC Lorient after just six months, having made 19 appearance and scoring two goals in a Celtic shirt. After a similarly short loan stint at Schalke (lasting just five months), Jenz secured a permanent transfer to Wolfsburg for a fee that could rise to £10 million. If Jenz’s time in Glasgow seemed all-too-fleeting, then Abildgaard played even more of a cameo, lasting just four months after his loan move from Rubin Kazan. The Danish defensive midfielder is now on loan at Hellas Verona of Serie A.

Yuki Kobayashi was a former team-mate of Kyogo Furuhashi at Vissel Kobe, but the central defender has struggled to make a similar impact to his countryman (a tall order, granted). With just seven appearances since arriving in January, Kobayashi has not universally impressed. It is too early to write the 22-year-old off, but the jury is most certainly still out.

Aaron Mooy arrived at Celtic as something of a low-risk, low-key signing under Ange. Mooy proved all his doubters wrong during Celtic’s treble-winning campaign, as the 32-year-old rolled back the years with some vintage performances. It was to be the Australian’s swansong, however, as the midfielder retired at the end of the 2022/23 campaign.

From the magic of Mooy to the concern over Kobayashi, the hit rate of Postecoglou’s recruitment may not have been at the same level of his debut season.


Although Ange’s signing record in his second season did not quite live up to his debut campaign, there were still four arrivals who showed enough to suggest that they could be important players for Brendan Rodgers when 2023/24 gets underway:

Sead Hakšabanović was regarded as something of a prodigious talent when he made his Halmstad debut as a 15-year-old in the Swedish Cup back in 2015. A move to West Ham followed just two years later, but the Swedish-born winger made only two appearances in 2017/18 for the Hammers before spending time on loan in Spain and Sweden. Sead returned permanently to his homeland when he signed for IFK Norrköping in 2020, where his return-to-form earned him a £4.7 million transfer to Rubin Kazan. Since Celtic picked the winger up for £2.1 million, he has started just 13 games but shown enough to suggest that he could contribute a whole lot more. If Rodgers can identify a role at Celtic Park suited to Hakšabanović (is he a number 10?) then this player’s early promise could finally be realised.

Alistair Johnston quickly established himself as a fans’ favourite following the right-back’s arrival in January from Montréal. His immediate impact resulted in a trophy for every 6.5 games he played in a Celtic jersey, which made the departure of Josip Juranović to Union Berlin far easier to accept. Whether Rodgers continues to deploy Ange’s favoured inverted full-backs remains to be seen, but Johnston looks as though he would suit a traditional over-lapping full-back role better in any case.

Tomoki Iwata was signed for a second time by Ange Postecoglou, who had worked with the adaptable Japanese international at Yokohama F. Marinos. Iwata looked far more suited to the defensive midfielder role, which is where Rodgers could utilise him more often next season. Don’t let his one bad game at centre-half distort the fact that Iwata won the J-League’s MVP award last year.

Oh Hyeon-gyu offers a different option upfront for Celtic, and his seven goals from three starts (a goal every 84 minutes overall) was a decent return since joining in January. Kyogo will naturally still be Rodgers’ first choice, but Oh has raw attributes that the returning gaffer will refine and develop in the coming season.


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