Getting your top targets in is usually difficult to do in the middle of a transfer window, even more so in January. The selling club is incentivised to make you wait until the last few days, while they work on attracting a competitive bid. Whatever your opening bid is, it’s not enough. Why would it be?
There is a notion that clubs simply have to pay the asking price to get a deal over the line. What reluctant seller issues an asking price? Do we have one for Matt O’Riley? Of course not. Any bid early in a transfer window for a top Celtic player who was under a long-term contract would be declined with a “not interested in selling” line, no matter what the price was.
If they will offer £X on 15 Jan, they will pay £X+Y on the 27th. Despite what you read in the newspapers (apparently you do), asking prices are only issued in two circumstances: either when a club is actively trying to sell a player, or when they think the buyer will pay an outrageous fee well above value (some Saudi clubs fell into this category recently).
A simple response along the lines of “We think we can attract a higher bid from England/Germany” is sufficient to stall. So you open with a bid that you know will be rejected, it is always rejected, then the process either stalls or edges closer to a deal. If, as reported, Celtic have concluded a deal to sign top target Nicolas Kuhn from Rapid Vienna this early in the month, something else is at play. Rapid are in financial crisis, dependent on borrowings and have recently failed to meet regulatory obligations.
At the halfway stage in the Bundesliga they are eight points off a Europa League spot. The Conference League is a more likely target, but they failed to make it through the qualification rounds of that tournament this season, so they will have limited hope of a run in the competition next term.
In these circumstances, “Hard currency, why, sir, that’ll do nicely”, can be compelling. A desperate need of money (increasingly common in Europe) would test the resolve of any club. Kuhn is a top target for Celtic, so let’s hope the deal goes through.