ISMAILA SORO is poised to quit Celtic and join French second tier outfit Valenciennes at the beginning of next week.

The £2million midfield misfit, who still has 12 months to run on his contract, is ready to sign for the Ligue 2 club, despite recent links to Israeli top-flight duo Beitar Jerusalem and Hapoel Be’er Sheva, as reported in sports media outlet FootMercato.

Soro, who was signed by ex-Hoops boss Neil Lennon from Bnei Yehuda in 2020, spent last season on loan at Portuguese outfit Arouca, but they did not take up the option to make the switch permanent.

The 25-year-old Ivorian anchorman has been told he has no future at the champions by Brendan Rodgers.

His last first-team appearance for the Hoops was in December 2021.

LOAN BHOY…Ismaila Soro during his season-long stint with Arouca in Portugal.

Rodgers has already sold Osaze Urgohide, who had returned following a second loan stint at Belgian outfit KV Oostende, to another Ligue 2 side, Amiens.

The versatile defender’s former Sheffield Wednesday team-mate Liam Shaw has also moved on, this time on a season-long switch to Shaun Maloney’s Wigan.

Rodgers also gave the go-ahead for quadruple treble hero Conor Hazard’s move to Plymouth Argyle and okayed left-back Adam Montgomery’s temporary switch to Scott Brown’s Fleetwood Town.

Soro, Urhoghide, Shaw and Hazard were four of 10 players identified by CQN as heading for the champions’ exit once Rodgers had completed his assessment of the squad he inherited.

Albian Ajeti, the £5million misfit from West Ham who has scored only nine goals for the club since arriving in the summer of 2020, and one-time Republic of Ireland international anchorman James McCarthy are also lined up for departured before the August 31 transfer deadline.

Neither was included in Rodgers’ squad for the tour of Japan or the two pre-season games and it’s clear they have no future at the treble winners.

MAKING A POINT…utility defender Stephen Welsh in one of his rare appearances last season, the 2-1 win over St Johnstone in Perth in October.

Stephen Welsh played in the 1-1 draw with Wolves in the Aviva Stadium in Dublin last weekend, but he, too, is on the brink of a shift. The ex-Scotland Under-21 international centre-back and skipper has been linked with Serie A clubs Hellas Verona and Bologna.

The 23-year-old defender kicked off last season in the top side and scored the champions’ first goal of the Premiership campaign against Aberdeen inside three minutes of the 2-0 opening-day win at Parkhead on July 31.

However, Welsh, who is under contract until June 2025, made only five more first-team starts following 24 appearances the previous term.

Rodgers will still be pondering over Liam Scales who played well in the draw against the Midlands club and the 3-2 win over Athletic Bilbao on Tuesday evening.

The Irishman was a success at Aberdeen during his season-long loan at Pittodrie and ex-Celt Barry Robson, who replaced the axed Jim Goodwin during the club’s impressive run-in to the campaign, would welcome back the player who cost £600,000 when he joined from Shamrock Rovers in August 2021.

TAYSIDE TRIUMPH…LIam Scales celebrates the final goal in Celtic’s 3-0 win over Dundee United at Tannadice in December 2021.

Young Irish striker Johnny Henry, who signed from Sligo Rovers in January 2020, spent the first half of last season on loan at Queen’s Park and the second part at Shamrock Rovers, will also benefit from opportunities elsewhere. His current deal runs until November.

Twenty-four-year-old Mikey Johnston, who was at Portuguese side Vitoria Guimaraes last term, has seen his Celtic future put on hold with a back injury which is likely to rule him out for three months.

The winger, who has two years left to run on his contract, will face a make-or-break period before the January transfer window.

A year ago, CQN named 10 players facing the axe as Ange Postecoglou trimmed his squad – we called every single exit correct. Our list was compiled of Boli Bolingoli, Christopher Jullien, Ross Doohan, Scott Robertson, Ajeti, Soro, Urhoghide, Shaw, Kenny and Johnston.

At that time, Scales, Adam Montgomery and Vasilis Barkas, who has now signed a 12-month deal with FC Utrecht after a season’s loan at the Dutch club, had already agreed temporary moves while one-time wonder Bhoy Karamoko Dembele had joined French side Stade Brest on a four-year deal.

The 10 names on our dossier were all moved on.

Let’s see what transpires this time around.

* DON’T miss the unbeatable match report from Celtic v Ross County this afternoon – only in your champion CQN.


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