ALBIAN AJETI will almost certainly be one of the first through the exit as Brendan Rodgers continues his Celtic clear-out.
The returning Hoops boss kick-started the process when he allowed 20-year-old left-back Adam Montgomery to go on a season-long loan to Scott Brown’s Fleetwood Town.
The Scotland Under-21 defender spent the previous campaign at St Johnstone and Rodgers has decided the youngster will benefit with game-time at the English third-tier team.
DOWN – AND OUT…flop frontman Albian Ajeti will be on his way.
Ajeti, a £5million misfit who has scored a mere nine goals in his two years at the champions since his arrival from West Ham in the summer of 2020, spent last term with Sturm Graz.
However, the Swiss striker failed to make an impact with the Austrian outfit and has returned to Glasgow where he has a year of his contract – worth a reported £25,000-per-week – still to run.
Ajeti, 26, will discover he has no part to play in Rodgers’ future plans and will be allowed to move again on a temporary or permanent basis.
Stephen Welsh is also on the brink of a move with Serie A clubs Hellas Verona and Bologna linked with the £3million-rated centre-back, as CQN reported last week.
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.
ITALIAN JOB…Stephen Welsh may be heading for Serie A.
The former Scotland Under-21 skipper, who made his debut at right-back in a 4-1 win over Hamilton Accies at New Douglas Park in February 2020, has attracted attention from other clubs in the recent past.
Udinese were also linked before the January transfer deadline and others who have been credited with an interest are Porto, Toulouse, Hajduk Split and Sheffield Wednesday.
It increasingly looks like his career at Parkhead is coming to a conclusion.
James McCarthy is unlikely to see out the remaining two years of the contract he signed in August 2021 after quitting Crystal Palace at the end of his terms at the London club.
The 32-year-old former Republic of Ireland midfielder, who joined his boyhood favourites in August 2021 on a four-year deal, didn’t start a solitary game for the club last season.
McCarthy was involved in only 62 minutes of action. His last first-team sighting was as a substitute in the 2-1 win over St Johnstone in Perth on October 8 last year.
Liam Scales spent last season on loan at Aberdeen and boss Barry Robson wants to make the switch permanent. Rodgers knows the attributes of Greg Taylor, but he will not have seen too much match action from his understudy Alexandro Bernabei, a £3.75million purchase from South American top-flight side Lanus last summer.
The 23-year-old Irishman, who can play at left-back or in central defence, will be told his fate once the Hoops gaffer has assessed the qualities of the Argentine who made only 14 appearances in his debut season.
HAPPIER TIMES…Ismaila Soro celebrates arriving at Celtic in January 2020.
Ismaila Soro, who has returned from a year-long switch to Portuguese side FC Arouca, will also be on his way. A move to Panathanaikos was mooted last month before snags stalled the shift.
It may be revived, but one thing is sure and that there is no future at Celtic for the Ivorian midfielder, a £2million buy from Israeli club Bnei Yehuda in January 2020, who still has 12 months of his deal to run.
Osaze Urhoghide, who has returned after a season at KV Oostende, and Liam Shaw, who spent the year at Morecambe, were both signed from Sheffield Wednesday in the summer of 2021 before the June arrival of Ange Postecoglou.
Both the defender and the midfielder made only one start under the Greek-Australian – the 3-2 Europa League win over Real Betis at Parkhead on December 9 before they came off the first-team radar.
Urhogide and Shaw are likely to be told they will be on their way again in this transfer window.
Northern Ireland international keeper Conor Hazard, the hero of the quadruple treble success with two penalty-kick saves against Hearts in the spot-kick shoot-out in the Covid-delayed 2020 Scottish Cup Final, is No.4 in the pecking order among the club’s shotstoppers behind Joe Hart, Benji Siegrist and Scott Bain.
HEADING FOR THE EXIT…Conor Hazard is being lined up for a move to Plymouth Argyle.
Clearly, the 25-year-old netminder, who has already spent time with Finnish champions HJK Helsinki, Falkirk, Partick Thistle and Dundee, has figured in his last Hoops action and has been linked with a six-figure move to Championship side Plymouth Argyle.
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.
That takes us to number ten on the dossier of players who may be expendable to Rodgers – Mikey Johnston who was at Vitoria Guimaraes last season.
The 24-year-old winger, who made his Republic of Ireland debut during the campaign, is hoping to get the go-ahead to revive his Hoops career by previous boss Rodgers.
In his last campaign at Parkhead before the switch to Portugal, the wide Bhoy, hampered by persistent injuries, made just five starts, one of them in the Premier Sports League Cup Final triumph over Hibs on December 19 2020 at Hampden.
Johnston has two years left to run on his contract, but, despite the fact the Hoops have just sold winger Filipe Jota, he could be looking elsewhere to ply his trade.
GREEN FOR GO…Mikey Johnston during his Republic of Ireland debut.
A year ago, CQN named 10 players facing the axe as 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, Montgomery and Vasilis Barkas, whose contract has now been scrapped after a year at Utrecht, had already agreed loan 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.
Watch this space for developments of the players on our latest list.
The transfer window is scheduled to close at midnight on August 31.