Celtic made the first significant spend of the Ange Postecoglou and Dom McKay era yesterday by splashing £3.5m on Israeli winger, Liel Abada. The 19-year-old has made 48 career starts and 19 substitute appearances in senior football, all for Maccabi Petah Tikva.
After Liam Shaw (20) and Osaze Urhoghide (21 this month) joined from Sheffield Wednesday for training compensation fees, Abada’s signing is further indication that Celtic are intent on developing a team, rather than attempting to buy finished articles (like the definitely finished Shane Duffy). Two years from now, we should see the benefits of this approach, but as you know, there is a lot of football to be played before then.
What can you tell about a player who has played as few games as Liel, all of them in Israel? Israeli football is not a backwater, it is strong enough to test a teenage talent but the volume written about 48 starts will be a short book. With added travel restrictions, we can be sure he has not been watched often.
We are in familiar territory in signing players after so few appearances. Virgil van Dijk made 63 starts before signing for Celtic. Since then, the window before players with speculative potential reach eye-watering prices has shrunk. If we left Liel another year, we may find his progressed stalled, or that he has moved out our price range. We are going to kiss a lot of frogs when shopping in this sector, which is OK.
I had hoped Leigh Griffiths would remain at Celtic this season and was pleased when he signed a new one-year deal earlier this month – what feels like a long time ago. For me, yesterday’s news that he will not face criminal proceedings does not restore his position as a Celtic player. Better for all that he finds a new club as soon as possible.