The first thing that strikes you when you read the list of Celtic transfers in the January window, is that it comes close to being financially neutral. In came Alistair Johnston (24) – £3.5m, Hyeon-gyu Oh (21) – £2.5m, Yuki Kobayashi (22) – £1.5m and Tomoki Iwata (25) – £1m. Those are round numbers in GBP when the actual figures are likely to be round numbers in Canadian (or US) dollars, yen and won, but the total outlay will nudge north of £8m.
The vast bulk of that was recouped by the initial fee earned from selling Josip Juranovic (27) for a reported £7.5m to Union Berlin. Legia will see a piece of this action and it is unlikely we will receive much, if any, compensation for the registrations of loanees Moritz Jenz (23) and Oliver Abildgaard (26).
Giorgos Giakoumakis (28) will almost certainly leave before the windows close in North America and Japan. That could happen in days, or, like Patryk Klimala, who left for New York in April two years ago, Giorgos could remain at the club for the weeks ahead.
If Giorgos goes, we have traded at a profit. Good, though that would be, the objective of a transfer window is to ‘come out of it stronger than we went into it’. On this test, I’m sensing a lot of positivity. Juranovic was the only first choice player to leave and the early signs from Johnston indicate we have replaced like-for-like, only younger and possibly better.
The youngest recruit, Hyeon-gyu Oh, will carry a heavy burden: replace a popular striker in Giakoumakis and succeed against Premiership and Champions League defences. A few minutes at Tannadice is insufficient for even a cursory assessment.
Oh has played 26 minutes football since October and was still a month away from his expected return to action before arriving in Glasgow. It would not be the worst thing if Giorgos stayed until March to allow Oh time to get match fit. I know we shouldn’t, but Hampden is already on my mind.
Tonight we face the self-styled points-per-pound world champions. Livingston have lost only once in the seven games played since our win there in December (they folded at Hibs on Christmas Eve). Since then, they have outperformed the other two sides from the Lothians, whom they separate in the table. Clubs seem to go on a good run of form, then face Celtic and the bogey goes off the rails for a while. You should be confident tonight.