FORMER Celtic fans’ favourite Charlie Nicholas admits he has “worries” over Ange Postecoglou’s position with top stars apparently heading for the exit.
Right-back Josip Juranovic, who will play for Croatia in their World Cup quarter-final against Brazil on Friday afternoon, and Greek striker Giorgos Giakoumakis have been reported as two who could be on their way when the transfer window reopens next month.
Nicholas is concerned that Postecoglou is not involved in decisions taken over the players who only joined the Hoops in August last year with the defender arriving on a £2.5million switch from Legia Warsaw and the forward joining for an identical fee from Dutch outfit VVV-Venlo.
ON THE RUN…Josip Juranovic and his Celtic team-mate Daizen Maeda tussle for possession in Croatia’s 3-1 penalty-kick win over Japan in their World Cup last-16 encounter.
Both international aces have deals until May 31 2026, but there is speculation neither will be around for the duration of their terms.
Nicholas said: “I am concerned with what is happening on the contract front with Josip Juranovic and Giorgos Giakoumakis at Celtic – and even more so if Ange Postecoglou isn’t involved in the decisions.
“Both are big players, so it’s alarming they could be sold by the club if neither are able to agree new deals. Players come and go, I get it, but the bigger picture worries me. What does Postecoglou really think about losing two of his key men?
“I am a big fan of Juranovic. He hasn’t looked out of place with Croatia in the knock-out stages of the World Cup and could easily play in the English Premier League or any one of Europe’s top divisions.
“And the versatility of a right-back who can also play left-back is invaluable. If Celtic sold Juranovic, they would certainly get more than the £2.5million they paid for him, but I don’t think it would be a massive profit.
“I know the club have just signed Alistair Johnston from Montreal for £3million, but he isn’t a better right-back. There would also be a lot of interest in Giakoumakis because he has scored a lot of goals, despite not being a regular starter.”
POWERHOUSE…Giorgos Giakoumakis celebrates netting against Shakhtar Donetsk in the 1-1 Champions League deadlock at Parkhead in October.
The former Scotland international forward, speaking to the Daily Express, continued: “The wage packets of Giakoumakis and Juranovic will be nowhere near what the top earners at Parkhead are on and by all accounts the offers that are on the table would still have left them some way short of that level.
“It will be nothing like the Martin O’Neill era of big contracts.
“It takes me back to my first spell at Celtic in the early eighties. I was on £90 a week and the top-paid players were on £300 a week. I only wanted the same as the top players, but I was told that if I didn’t take Celtic’s contract offer of £90 then I would be sold.
“Is this how things are playing out just now with Juranovic and Giakoumakis? Celtic get in these guys on relatively cheap wages and then try to top them up with a token gesture on their contracts.
“And if the players dig their heels in, then it seems the club is happy to sell them on because they expect Postecoglou to fill the gaps. He has done that brilliantly, but there will come a time when he brings in one or two and they are not right.
UP IN THE AIR…Ryan Christie was sold to Bournemouth last summer.
“Look at Ryan Christie. His contract was running down and Celtic got rid of him for £1.5million last year. My concern is that Postecoglou could end up getting frustrated with the club’s approach when he is trying to build something.”
Ominously, Nicholas added: “Brendan Rodgers left the Parkhead managerial hotseat in 2019 because he wasn’t happy with the way things were going.
“I can’t see Postecoglou taking any nonsense from the hierarchy, so I hope it doesn’t end the same way for him as it did for Rodgers.
“I just hope the Australian has a say in these calls on his players’ futures and that they aren’t being made by others.”
In the midst of the exit talk, Postecoglou has already assed two players to his squad ahead of the January transfer window.
Japanese central defender Yuki Kobayashi has arrived from J-League Vissel Kobe to join World Cup No.2 Johnston at the champions.