HERE is a scenario which will surely concern Brendan Rodgers with 19 days remaining of the wheeling and dealing in the UK transfer market.
The Celtic manager will almost certainly be adding to his squad and giving the go-ahead for departures as the September 1 deadline looms.
Rodgers may – or may not – be satisfied with his work so far in attempting to piece his jigsaw together as he prepares for the rigours at home and in Europe.
All reports, informed or otherwise, linking Celtic players with a shift to Spurs or any other English top-flight club will be forced into cold storage until the market reopens for business on January 1 2024.
LOOKING OVER HIS SHOULDER…Brendan Rodgers may face unique transfer problems next month.
In normal times, that would allow the manager to plan ahead without the irritating intrusions of off-the-wall transfer speculation from a posse of “in-the-know” reporters and “reliable sources” who are quite happy to throw spanners into the works with a load of claptrap sales talk.
Alas, my friends, these are not normal times. There is the spectre of Saudi Arabia and a mountain of cash still to contend with for another three weeks after our deadline comes and goes.
It’s a very real threat to Celtic – and, for that matter, any top European team, from Manchester to Madrid. Which club or player anywhere on these shores and elsewhere can repel life-changing megabucks moves to the Middle East?
The Parkhead hierarchy could not reject a £25million offer for Filipe Jota and the fans’ favourite, understandably, was not averse to a £10million tax-free annual pay packet and a four-year contract with Al-Ittihad.
I have to admit my knowledge of the Pro League in the Gulf State is akin to my comprehension of quantum particles – absolutely zilch – but I would hazard a guess that the Portuguese maverick will not enhance his playing skills in that corner of the universe.
That may be well down the list of priorities for a crowd-pleaser who will be 28 years old when the deal expires. I am not privy to the private thoughts of Jota, but I have enough savvy to understand he will not be scrabbling for a living once his dancing shoes have been put away for the last time.
Which brings us back to the problem which could be visited upon Rodgers in the first three weeks of September.
LOST BHOY…Filipe Jota settles into life in Saudi Arabia.
How about this for a potential catastrophic chain of events? A Saudi club take a fancy to Kyogo Furuhashi and are willing to match, or better, the fee that saw Jota leave Glasgow at the speed of light.
Celtic, of course, could insist the player, under contract at the champions until June 2027, stay put. Kyogo, I am led to understand, is perfectly happy at the club and is enjoying life in Scotland.
So, too, was Jota.
So, do Celtic knock back a massive bid for a proven goalscorer? Could anyone blame the Japanese international, who is 29 on his next birthday, being just a tad upset that such a lucrative and life-altering switch had been denied him?
The worst-case plot is that the club do not want an unhappy player in the dressing room and a monumental offer is accepted.
Not only do Celtic lose their most prolific marksman, 20 goals in an injury-interrupted debut campaign and 34 last season, but the manager is positioned between a rock and a hard place and, with the European market closed, cannot replace a talismanic and pivotal performer until the turn of the year.
By which time the team could be expelled from the Champions League and possibly missing out on European football after Christmas yet again.
No disrespect to Daizen Maeda or Oh Hyeon-gyu, who would be Kyogo’s likely replacements unless the manager has someone lined up before the end of the month, but they will not give the team that certain quality and threat offered by Kyogo.
Of course, it doesn’t necessarily have to be Kyogo we’re discussing. It could be Reo Hatate, Liel Abada, Matt O’Riley, Cameron Carter-Vickers. Make your own choice.
It’s a perilous possibility whichever way you look at it.
BACK IN THE OLD ROUTINE…Kyogo Furuhashi celebrates his first goal of the new season after netting in the 4-2 opening-day triumph over Ross County at Parkhead.
Apologies for adopting the guise of a doomsayer, but you better believe it is a situation, not that unlikely when you contemplate it, that will be preying in the subconscious of most managers, our own Brendan Rodgers included.
The Saudis have been permitted a three-week period in which they can cherry-pick the best Europe has to offer and there’s very little our top clubs can do to combat the menace.
Liverpool, for instance, saw captain Jordan Henderson, midfielder Fabinho and striker Roberto Firmino spirited off to Saudi in the summer. What price Jurgen Klopp’s prize asset Mo Salah being eyed by a mindbogglingly wealthy club as we speak?
It’s a hazardous situation for managers in Europe who will hardly welcome an uninvited invasion to plunder their playing resources early into a new season. At the moment, the Saudis have until September 20 to bolster their squads.
The solution is simple; soccer’s governing bodies UEFA or FIFA can order Saudi Arabia’s football hierarchy to ensure future transfer deadlines get in step with the majority of Europe’s top leagues.
Expect an announcement around the next millennium.