There was a standing joke on here for years. On day one of the transfer window someone would write, “The transfer window’s been open 13 hours and still no news, get your finger out Celtic”. It mirrored the less jovial comments when the transfer window had 13 hours left, although “get your finger out Celtic” occasionally still featured.
It’s not just Celtic, transfer business is a deadline activity. Why sell your prime asset early when you know desperate clubs will pay over the odds to appease the manager who is demanding sufficient resources to meet target?
You need to work an angle to pick up prime cuts this early in the window. We picked up Virgil van Dijk for a paltry £2.6m in June 2013, which is remarkable, considering he is an outstanding player who was working in one of Europe’s heavily scouted leagues.
We got in early with van Dijk, who had been released by Willem II without playing a game before making 62 appearances with Groningen. A false start followed by a period with just enough form to tempt Celtic’s scouts, but not so much as to alert the slower footed.
So what do we know about Dedryck Boyata? He’s 24, three years older than Virgil when he joined, but has played around half the number of first team games Virgil had experienced. Dedryck was vacuumed up by City as a 16-year-old, part of the annual harvest major clubs make each year. He clearly had something about him to convince City to retain him, but first team outings were rare. When Celtic came shopping a year ago, City were prepared to live without Jason Denayer for a season, but not Dedryck, who went into their first team squad.
It’s correct to say that knowledge of Dedryck is scarce, even among City fans, but Ronny has spent time on City’s training fields with him, and had him watched extensively in non-first team outings over the last year.
Is he the answer to our defensive prayers? Time will tell, but the recruitment strategy which brought him here is coherent. All our scouts and management team have watched him to the extent that a consensus has been reached. His profile is not high enough to commend a fee which is out with our budget, and most importantly, we can bring him in now, making sure he’s embedded before the potentially lucrative Petrofac Cup Champions League qualifiers.
Welcome to Celtic, Dedryck.
Still laughing, in case you were in any doubt.