THIS time last year Sead Haksabanovic was cavorting around Tynecastle with his Celtic team-mates as they celebrated their second successive title triumph in the 2-0 win over Hearts in the capital.

Twelve months on, the best the winger can hope for is a seat in the Parkhead stand when the champions take on Philippe Clement’s Ibrox side on Saturday in an encounter that will go a long way to deciding the destiny of the silverware.

In Edinburgh on May 7 2023, Haksabanovic, who turned 25 on Saturday, replaced Daizen Maeda in the 80th minute with Ange Postecoglou’s side coasting to a 2-0 victory courtesy of second-half goals from Kyogo Furuhashi and Oh Hyeon-gyu.

The Sweden-born Montenegro international had been brought to the club by the Greek-Australian gaffer the previous summer in a cut-price £1.7million from skint Rubin Kazan and the future looked bright for the versatile performer.

Haksabanovic, though, has just endured a year in football’s version of hell after getting the heave from Brendan Rodgers a mere four games into the Irishman’s second coming.

OWN GOAL…foot-in-mouth time for Sead Haksabanovic.

With an awesome sense of excruciatingly awful timing, the player took to social media in August to vent his frustration at the  lack of game time under Postecoglou’s successor.

He published an image on Instagram with the words: “If they don’t see your value maybe you’re not at the right place.”

I insisted at the time it was more cataclysmic than cryptic and the consequences were predictable.

Haksabanovic had been overlooked for the opening two matches, made a 75th-minute substitute’s appearance in the 1-0 League Cup loss at Kilmarnock and, a week later, came off the bench on the hour mark in the dreary home scoreless stalemate against St Johnstone.

His next move was to be propelled pronto through the Parkhead exit in a season-long loan switch to Stoke City. He must have wished he had resisted the temptation to let the world know of his unease in Glasgow.

Alex Neil, the former Hamilton Accies head coach who took the Swede to the Championship outfit, was sacked before the turn of the year with the club toiling in 20th place in the table.

Haksabanovic contributed a solitary goal and two assists in 21 appearances in a distinctly underwhelming campaign as the club escaped relegation by five points.

CAPITAL SHOW…a delighted Sead Haksabanovic celebrates Celtic’s second successive title at Tynecastle on May 7 2023.

They beat Bristol City 4-0 at the weekend in their final outing of a dismal term and there was no sign of Haksabanovic. According to reports acros the border, the Potteries outfit have been informed it will cost them £2.2million to sign the Celt on a permanent basis.

I think we can safely acknowledge that is one deal that will not take place in the summer.

So, where does that leave Haksabanovic? Basically, from my vantage point, between a rock and a hard place.

The player has a contract at Celtic until June 30 2027, but only Rodgers can tell us what the future holds in store for a performer who arrived in the east end of Glasgow with hopes of attempting to emulate his fellow-countryman Henrik Larsson.

Rodgers may have parted company with Liel Abada while Mikey Johnston is almost certainly surplus to requirements, but he still has wide players in Nicolas Kuhn, his £3million January recruit from Rapid Vienna, Daizen Maeda, Luis Palma, Yang Hyun-jun and James Forrest.

Now-you-see-me-now-you-don’t Marco Tilio, back in his native Australia after a mere 28 minutes of first-team action, may also have something more substantial to offer in the new season.

HAMPDEN HEROES…Liel Abada and Sead Haksabanovic hold the Scottish Cup after Celtic 3-1 win over Inverness Caley Thistle on June 3 last year.

For my tuppence worth, I wouldn’t be in too much haste to get rid of Haksabanovic.

There’s little point in naming names at this late stage of the season, but there have been more than a few occasions over the months where I have believed the Swede would have been a more productive performer than some individuals in the hoops.

Haksabanovic was involved in Celtic’s momentous achievement of becoming the first club in world football to win eight domestic trebles last time around.

In the past 12 months, he hasn’t so much stumbled during his football journey as taken a nosedive into oblivion, but I think he could still prove to be a more than worthwhile member of Rodgers’ first-team squad.

Might be a good idea if he keeps away from Instagram, though.








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