SO, DEAR READER, it appears there is a queue of eager English suitors prepared to battle for the signature of Celtic’s Republic of Ireland Under-21 international Bosun Lawal in the summer.

Newly-promoted Derby County, Queens Park Rangers and Portsmouth are among the frontrunners in pursuit of the versatile starlet who has just completed a season-long loan at newly-relegated Fleetwood Town who will be playing in the nation’s fourth tier in the new season.

It is “highly likely that Lawal will be sent out on loan again” we have been informed.

How do we know this? Well, of course, we read it in the paper, so it must be true.

Aye, right.

I spent almost three decades in the business where I was fortunate enough to work for the country’s two top-selling newspapers at the time, the Daily Record, where I was chief sports sub-editor, and the Sunday Mail, where I was sports editor for nearly ten years and the journal was read by an average 2.8million people every weekend.

BALL BHOY…Bosun Lawal in action in Celtic’s dramatic 6-5 win over Rangers in the Youth Cyp Final at Hampden last season.

I have absolutely no inclination to come across as one those tiresome old Methuselahs who go on endlessly about it “not being like that in my day”.

However, I do wonder about some of the stuff that makes it into the national press these days. I am delighted to relate I still have friends and associates who are gainfully employed in the inky trade and I am well aware of their attributes, so this is not a scattergun approach to criticism.

Please remember that not all doctors are quacks and not all journalists are hacks.

Having said that, I do take a Siberian saltmine with some of the material that catches my eye these days.

I am enough of a traditionalist to confess I still pick up newspapers as well as the morning rolls on a daily basis. I’m a creature of habit, so my ball and chain informs me. Every day.

Celtic allowed the aforementioned and much-admired Lawal to move in a temporary switch in mid-August when Scott Brown came calling. Unfortunately, our former inspirational captain was relieved of his command at the beginning of September, Lee Johnson, axed by Hibs, took over for about five minutes and then Charlie Adam moved in.

CELTIC QUESTION TIME…Brendan Rodgers will have much to ponder in the summer.

You may remember the one-time Scotland international midfielder who enticed Kenny Dalglish into paying £7million for his skills to take him from Blackpool to Liverpool in 2011. Good old Charlie was about as mobile as the Empire State Building, but his eye for a pass and his distribution of the ball bordered on the majestic.

Give him credit for spotting Lawal’s potential as a holding midfielder. I confess I have only witnessed glimpses of the Dublin-born performer in action, but it was obvious, even in fleeting views, the lad could win tackles, move the ball precisly and concisely and, as you might expect from someone towering over six feet, was strong in aerial combat.

However, there was a genuine lack of pace which is an alarming deficiency for anyone who could be the last man between an opponent and the goalkeeper. That fear is eliminated at a stroke by a change of position on the field of play and, by all accounts, Lawal has flourished amid the mediocrity at Fleetwood.

And, so, here we are today with English clubs falling over themselves to snatch a Celtic kid who is under contract until June 2026. There is no chance the powerhouse – a tad reminiscent of Victor Wanyama in physique, tenacity and stamina – will be going anywhere until Brendan Rodgers says so.

There is much for the Celtic manager to address in the summer and 20-year-old Lawal’s future will be on the agenda.

Undoubtedly, there will be changes among his midfield squad. Has on-loan Benfica playmaker Paulo Bernardo done enough to entice Rodgers to part with something in the region of £6million for his subtle talents?

Odin Thiago Holm was a bit of an unknown quantity when he arrived in a £2.5million switch from Valarenga in June last year. Alas, the Norwegian is still a bit of a mystery.

MAESTRO…Matt O’Riley displays his undoubted skills.

Likewise, South Korean Kwon Hyeok-kyu who has yet to kick a ball in competitive action for the club after his summer recruitment. By all accounts, the tall and lithe operator looked the part during his loan stint at St Mirren before his progress was halted by injury.

Crucially, will Matt O’Riley linger long after the final whistle in the Scottish Cup showpiece showdown at Hampden on the iconic date of May 25?

It was in the same competition at the same stage last year when Portuguese pin-up Filipe Jota took his final bow in the green and white hoops. (Actually, he was left in the slipstream of exiting boss Ange Postecoglou on his way through the Parkhead departure lounge en route to Spurs, but that’s another story for another day.)

O’Riley, of course, interested Atletico Madrid at the turn of the year, but, to be fair to the Londoner, he refused to be unsettled by talk of megabucks in another land and buckled down to the job at hand and hasn’t let himself – or anyone else – down with his sheer professionalism.

I believe this stylish ball artiste will go out in a grand manner befitting his status at the national stadium next month and Celtic will benefit to the tune of £25million.

Remember, folks, you read it here first.


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