You will remember we track the number of appearances young players make before they sign for Celtic. We have a sweet spot of around 60 games (van Dijk: 62, Wanyama: 51, Dembele: 56).
It typically takes this number of games before a prospect will raise his profile enough to come to our attention, and for subsequent scouting to take place. Consider the process. Before recommending a player to Celtic, one of their in-country scouts will have to see him perform on a number of occasions and tested at a level comparable to the challenges faced by Celtic.
Alternatively, agents will need to produce DVDs to entice some interest. It takes time to differentiate a Kieran Tierney from a one season wonder.
Leave it later, say until around 100 games have been played, and a van Dijk is likely to flicker on radars in England or Germany. Celtic’s chances of acquiring the player would be considerably diminished, as even one season wonders can fetch £8m when an EPL club shows interest. Out of Celtic’s reach, but often still rubbish.
Kouassi Eboue breaks our guidelines. The teenager has made a starting line-up on 16 occasions in senior football plus three as a sub. He was red carded once and subbed off four times, so he’s only played 11 full games. 11 games is not a lot to base a £3m purchase on.
On the plus side, the quality of many of those games is reassuring. Five of his 90 minutes came in the Europa League against Salzburg, Nice and Schalke, so Celtic will have had the chance to see him perform against decent European sides – as an 18-year-old.
There are things I don’t know about this deal, where the recommendation came from being the most significant. I don’t recognise his agent, so not surprisingly it appears we’ve reached beyond the pools we were fishing in under Ronny and Neil. Kouassi also appears to be the agent’s most/only valuable asset. As such, I doubt the initiation came from the agent, or if the player’s profile was raised with anyone outside Russia before Celtic had the preliminaries signed.
Is a season in the Europa League the new sweet spot for a Celtic prospect? Stay tuned.