CELTIC have been involved in a remarkable TWENTY-EIGHT transfer deals totalling a whopping £71.6MILLION in a whirlwind 18 months.
Neil Lennon spent around £13.8million in bringing in ELEVEN recruits this summer during his squad rebuild – and he is eager to add to that total in this month’s window as he attempts to bolster his squad.
The Hoops boss, following his February return to the club last year, underwent a hectic couple of months in the summer transfer market as he moved to find successors for the likes of Kieran Tierney, who quit in a record-breaking £25million move to Arsenal, plus Mikael Lustig, Dedryck Boyata and Emilio Izaguirre who left at the end of their contracts.
In total, THIRTEEN players who featured in the treble treble campaign had to be replaced.
CUP WINNER…Christopher Jullien celebrates scoring the only goal of the Betfred League Cup Final last month.
Lennon recognised defence was a priority and his first major signing was the £7million swoop for centre-half Christopher Jullien, from French side Toulouse, in June.
Left-back Boli Bolingoli arrived in a £3million switch from Rapid Vienna in the same month while Republic of Ireland midfielder Luca Connell also joined in a cut-price £350,000 from Bolton.
A month later, Israeli international right-back Hatem Abd Elhamed moved to the eight-in-a-row champions in a £1.2million deal from Hapoel Be’er Sheva.
Lennon worked overtime in August as he brought in Irish kid striker Jonathan Afolabi who had rejected an extension contract offer from Southampton.
CUP THAT CHEERS…Man-of-the-Match Fraser Forster after his defiant show at Hampden.
The Irishman returned to the south coast club to negotiate a season-long loan for former Hoops favourite Fraser Forster after Scott Bain’s hand injury left him with only Craig Gordon as his experienced shotstopper.
And it was a hat-trick when the Hoops chief went back to Southampton to arrange another temporary transfer of Morocco-born Danish international forward Mohamed Elyounoussi. A couple of days before that signing, Austrian right-back Moritz Bauer arrived on another long-term deal from Stoke City.
And as the midnight deadline loomed on September 2, the summer saga concerning Scotland international left-back Greg Taylor came to a halt when he arrived from Kilmarnock for an undisclosed fee believed to be in the region of £2.25million.
DUTCH TREAT…Jeremie Frimpong has made a fabulous first impression.
And, with the clock ticking, Lennon fixed up bright teenagers Amsterdam-born Jeremie Frimpong, from Manchester City, and Manchester United’s Republic of Ireland international Lee O’Connor, both versatile defenders, on four-year contracts. It would be fair to say the Dutch kid has hit the ground running and has been a wow in his first-team appearances.
The beat-the-clock signing of Irish teen O’Connor just before the window closed took Celtic’s activity in the transfer market to an incredible 28 major moves in a year-and-a-half.
In July 1 2018, Odsonne Edouard signed a permanent contract at the club following a season on loan from Paris Saint-Germain. The deal was the highest in the Hoops’ history at £9million.
ON THE RAMPAGE…Odsonne Edouard attacks the opposition’s goal.
He became a direct replacement for Moussa Dembele, who, after only six appearances at the start of the 2018/19 season, was the first of the top team squad to leave on the last day of the August cut-off when he joined Lyon in a £19.8million move.
His transfer fee was eclipsed by Tierney’s move to the Gunners before the Premier League’s signing close-down at the start in August.
In between those two big-money exits, loan stars Filip Benkovic (Leicester City), Jeremy Toljan (Borussia Dortmund), Timothy Weah (Paris Saint-Germain) and Oliver Burke (West Brom) all returned to their parent clubs.
Boyata agreed a switch to Bundesliga mid-table outfit Hertha Berlin, Lustig went to Belgian side Gent, Izaguirre returned to Honduras and Scott Allan rejoined Hibs for a third spell after his pre-contract agreement a year ago.
Cristian Gamboa moved to German second-tier side VfL Bochum and veteran Dutch keeper Dorus De Vries, who was on the substitutes’ bench as back-up to Bain in the run-in to the unprecedented treble treble campaign, retired from playing in the summer and is concentrating on coaching.
SMOOTH OPERATOR…Mohamed Elyounoussi arrived on loan from Southampton.
Lennon also scrapped the contracts of two of predecessor Brendan Rodgers’ recruits when Marvin Compper, the £1.2million purchase from RB Leipszig who did not even complete 90 minutes in the top side, and midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu, signed as a free agent, were told they did not have a future at Parkhead.
The Irishman inherited the January 2019 signings of Vakoun Issouf Bayo and Marian Shved, who cost £2million each. The Ivorian striker played a total of five minutes as a substitute in the 1-0 win over Kilmarnock at Rugby Park in February before being injured and sidelined for the remainder of the season.
The winger returned to his Ukrainian club to complete their term and scored his first goal for the Bhoys in their 2-0 success over Nomme Kalju in the Champions League qualifier in July.
However, Bayo and Shved have failed to show since this challenging campaign got underway and their stay in Glasgow could be cut short.
In the meantime, the focus of Lennon is to bring in fresh faces to aid their team in the quest for nine in a row while making an impact on the Europa League knock-out stages where FC Copenhagen await in the last-32 next month. The Scottish Cup gets underway on January 18 with a visit to Championship outfit Partick Thistle as Celtic get the opportunity to edge closer to a phenomenal quadruple treble.
So, carry on spending, Lenny, and make this another season of celebration!
* HAPPY New Year, folks, from the CQN team. We hope 2020 is prosperous and peaceful for you and yours!