TRANSFER ROUND-UP with A CELTIC STATE OF MIND – Who do we need in and out to secure 9-in-a-row?

Celtic have just entered their most important transfer window of the last decade. The business we do over the next 29 days will go a huge way to deciding whether nine-in-a-row is achieved.

There can be no complacency shown by the board, as the deficiencies in Neil Lennon’s squad are clear for all to see.

ACSOM’s contributors have their say on who should stay and who should go…

Listen to the latest episode of the award-winning A Celtic State of Mind

COLIN WATT:

Ins:

✅ Filip Benković (loan or permanent);
✅ Victor Wanyama (loan);
✅ David Turnbull (sign and loan back out):
✅ Two strikers (not Andraž Šporar);
✅ Creative midfielder.

Recall :

✅ Ewan Henderson;
✅ Jack Aitchison.

Outs:

❌ Jack Hendry;
❌ Eboue Kouassi;
❌ Moritz Bauer;
❌ Craig Gordon;
❌ Scott Sinclair;
▶️ Lewis Morgan (loan);
▶️ Lee O’Connor (loan);
▶️ Vakoun Issouf Bayo (loan);
▶️ Ewan Henderson (loan);
▶️ Marian Shved (loan);
▶️ Armstrong Okoflex (loan).

A lot of the problem with some of the younger squad players, such as Luca Connell and Jonathan Afolabi, is that the development squad aren’t in any leagues, so they’re not playing every week.

Having watched the clips of Andraž Šporar, and considering the other teams that are linked with him, I don’t think he’s the kind of player that would complement Odsonne Édouard or Leigh Griffiths.

Šporar’s an out-of-the-box player who seems to thrive on getting in behind defenders. For me, Celtic are screaming out for a penalty box striker to get on the end of the fantastic cutbacks that Jeremie Frimpong has provided since he broke through. A Gary Hooper-esque striker would be ideal for this team, especially playing as the lone striker. I would have taken Hooper in the summer, however, he has chosen to have the sun on his back in New Zealand.

As far as creative midfielders go, we need someone else to step up when Ryan Christie is off the boil.

Our top goalscorers this year are:

1️⃣ Odsonne Édouard & Ryan Christie – 17;
2️⃣ James Forrest – 14;
3️⃣ Mo Elyounoussi – 6.

If we don’t get anything from those four, then we really struggle, as we witnessed on Sunday.

The whole issue with the size of the squad is that we have several players who are only training, as there is no B team or development league where they can get match fitness.

I’d be battering down Spurs’ door for Jack Clarke, who’s been recalled from Leeds after only playing twice. The boy is a talent and would push Forrest on.

PSG centre-half, Moussa Sissako has also been linked to Celtic, who seem to have a relationship with the Parisians that could lead to the 19-year-old following Odsonne Édouard and Timo Weah to Celtic Park.

ANDREW RAFFERTY:

From Colin’s list of departures, I’d keep Craig Gordon and Marian Shved, and feel that the latter should be given some game time (if fit) against Partick Thistle in the Scottish Cup.

I’d possibly also send Luca Connell and Jonathan Afolabi out on loan as well.

Any speculation around a return for Paddy Roberts has been nipped in the bud early doors, as he has just agreed a loan deal with Middlesbrough (his fifth loan spell away from parent club, Manchester City). ‘Boro have been going ok recently after a dreadful autumn and I feel that Paddy should be a good signing for them.

KEVIN GRAHAM:

I would like to see a centre-half, striker and a creative forward coming in. They all need to be box ready. No projects.

Also, I want the return of Neil Lennon circa 2010. We are in a war and we need him in his former guise.

KEVIN O’ROURKE:

We need two strikers, a centre-half, and a right-midfielder. James Forrest needs competition, and was at his best when he had Paddy Roberts to compete with.

Vakoun Issouf Bayo and Leigh Griffiths should be let go, for me, but only when we get another two strikers in.

ALAN MORRISON:

Squad mismanagement is a theme I return to again and again. Every club is poor at it, to be fair, as recruiting players is an inefficient exercise, as clubs refuse to blend data with “expert judgement” and instead entirely rely on the latter.

That being said, at Celtic there are long-running squad weaknesses:

* Lustig succession planning failure (now resolved);
* Tierney succession planning (attempted to be resolved – jury out);
* Centre-back injury jinx (one broken toe away from another crisis);
* Striker injury jinx (one Édouard strain away from a crisis);
* Brown succession planning (unresolved).

Celtic have the second most bloated squad in Scotland but should have the most valuable. But, again, there is waste to be trimmed. Those who are not projects who have no prospect of playing a role or are not good enough should be actively moved on:

❌ Craig Gordon;
❌ Jack Hendry;
❌ Calvin Miller;
❌ Kundai Benyu;
❌ Eboue Kouassi;
❌ Lewis Morgan;
❌ Scott Sinclair;
❌ Jonny Hayes.

The following need loan time to see if they can step up, as they won’t get meaningful football otherwise:

▶️ Conor Hazard;
▶️ Marian Shved;
▶️ Vakoun Issouf Bayo;
▶️ Luca Connell;
▶️ Armstrong Okoflex;
▶️ Scott Robertson;
▶️ Jonathan Afolabi;
▶️ Lee O’Conner.

If all that lot was sorted then Celtic need to recruit:

✅ If Simunovic and Elhamed are ever going to be fit to contribute then one first choice central defender is required, otherwise two;
✅ I’d give Bitton more game time rotating with Brown. If Bitton is not trusted to be a first choice defensive central-midfielder then we need a new one and we may as well sell Bitton, as he is not a central-defender;
✅ I’d repeat last season’s flexi-forward ploy of bringing in at least two multi-functional forwards that can play in any of the front four positions, loan again if necessary. The model of highly promising youth at elite level (Weah) and someone with something to prove (Burke) is not a bad short-term model;
✅ I’d also bring in one first choice forward.

So, in summary:

✅ 1 x DC (1st pick);
✅ 1 x DMC (1st pick or use Bitton more);
✅ 2 x multi-functional forwards;
✅ 1 x striker (1st pick).

This would leave around 25 in the first team squad, probably about right. We’d then have 17 out on loan and shed eight, taking about £100k a week off the wages but adding five more.

All of this won’t happen, of course, as it is too drastic!

Watch Professor Willy Maley with A Celtic State of Mind

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