Loans in signings out on loan, what is the plan?


Celtic’s January transfer window saw seven new players sign deals, although only four will be at the club for the remainder of this season, and only one of those, Vakoun Issouf Bayo, is on a permanent deal.

Bayo is a classic centre forward-target man, unlike Leigh Griffiths or Odsonne Edouard, who like to play in the channels.  He has not played for two months, so it is likely to be a couple of weeks before we see him.  He is here because of our Ivorian Connection through Kolo Toure, who is a coach at both Celtic and Ivory Coast.  That being the case, the club should know more about him than most new signings, which should mitigate the risk inherent in any signing.

Since the resumption of action after the winter break, we have seen Oliver Burke and Timothy Weah fulfil the striker role, each on loan, from West Brom and Paris Saint-Germain respectively. Neither player is here to play the striker role long-term; expect them to supplement the wide positions after we return to a more normal compliment up front.

With minutes to spare, Jeremy Toljan signed on loan from Borussia Dortmund.  This is a player who great things were expected from when he left Hoffenhiem 18 months ago, but Dortmund is a different beast and he did not find the move easy.

That’s not dissuaded many of his talent, which means Celtic’s chances of securing his services on a permanent basis are slim.  I also believe the player is on pretty decent (cough) contract.  He will not be here beyond May.

Maryann Shved, 21, arrived this week from Karpaty Lviv in Ukraine, where he has returned to stay until the summer.  We moved early for Maryann, interest in the player was generated in only 38 competitive games.  Players grow up on the football field and Maryann needs as many opportunities as he can get right now.  With the manager having so many wide options for the remainder of the season, loaning him back to Karpaty was an easy decision.

Two American full backs were signed yesterday, Andrew Gutman (22) and Manny Perez (19), both loaned back to US clubs.

So all these loans arrivals, signings-only-to-be-loaned out, what’s the plan?

The top-level plan is to win the league, do our best to win the two cups and to give us the best chance of qualifying for the Champions League.  Everything else is a consequence of this.  Two decades ago, when Martin O’Neill set his mind to the same task, he signed talent who were at the peak of their physical capabilities.  Many of those who arrived not only had experience in the English Premiership, they were top performers there.

By the time Gordon Strachan took over, signing strikers who were recently top scorers in England was no longer possible.  Gordon took to Poland (as well as Easter Road), as we searched for talent in value markets.

Neil Lennon’s term saw the transitioning to where we are now.  Neil found African talent, and successfully raided the lower leagues in England, but under his tenure we embarked on what would become one of the mainstays of our recruitment planning – loaning young players (Fraser Forster) who were not getting a sniff at wealthier clubs.

Many doors have closed to us in the last 20 years.  There will be no more Chris Suttons, while competition for players across Eastern Europe is vastly greater than it was when we signed Artur Boruc.

The news is not all bad, in fact, significant things are much better than they were 20 years ago, most specifically, the development of young talent.  Callum McGregor, Kieran Tierney and James Forrest are more successful than any player Paul McStay and Aiden McGeady – and both of them were notable as exceptions for their eras.

The ‘Fraser Forster strategy’ – scout teams too distracted elsewhere to give opportunities to players, has been very productive.  Olivier Ntcham, Odsonne Edouard and Dedryck Boyata all fall into this category (we’ll reserve comment on Daniel Arzani).  We managed to get Odsonne on a try-before-you-buy loan first.  During his loan he did enough to convince Brendan Rodgers to beak our transfer record on him.  Celtic think this will continue to be a productive furrow for them.

Not all signings are Development Projects

Not all loans fall into this category.  Some, like Jeremy Toljan, are here to do a job for a specific period.  Development Projects are not the only game in town, sometimes you just have to plug a hole to strengthen the team.

There were choices for the right back role.  Lech Poznan’s Robert Gumny was looked at and liked, but the player failed a medical a year ago and has not played enough football since a subsequent operation to convince anyone he would be fitter than Jozo Simunovic.  Or we could have tried to find a nugget elsewhere, but Jeremy got the nod.

We sign a lot of players

Two American full backs on the same day we sign a German full back, “millions of wingers”.  This has been going on for a while.  You, me, Celtic and the players know, not all of them are going to make it.  Football, for a century, has harvested talent, picked the cherries and cast the darnel aside.

I remember Martin O’Neill, flush with the success of his early signings and before his Ulrik Laursen and David Fernandez period, told us that every signing a football club makes needs to be a success.  Yes, if you have the wisdom and insight, the luck and the money, maybe you can be so bold.  But there is a real world out there full of scouts and managers who each carry the weight of experience of players who just didn’t work out.

There are formulas, some better than others, but we should know that just putting a Celtic jersey onto a player will not, and has never, made him a certain success.  Martin would have been more accurate by saying ;You have to kiss a lot of frogs in this business’, just do your best to get some handsome frogs in the first place.

We have exceptional domestic talent: Scott Brown, Kieran Tierney, James Forrest, Callum McGregor and Ryan Christie – better than any Scottish team in 30 years, and we have done very well to retain them.

There is room for others to follow. The opportunity is there for Scott Bain and Tony Ralston.

As well as developing our own talent, we have cooperated with two of the world’s richest, Manchester City and PSG, to foster young players who are not getting a chance at their parent club.  This is affordable, enhances the squad, and has helped achieve our football objectives.

We have five young players out on loan: Lewis Morgan, Calvin Miller, Andrew Gutman and Manny Perez, and Maryann Shved.  The hope is some develop into first-team regulars, like Callum McGregor and Ryan Christie did.

That’s the strategy.  Is it better than signing the best permanent players we can?  Like you, I prefer the good ones to be tied down to long-term contracts at Celtic, but despite this, the answer is a clear yes.  We need to work angles with PSG, Borussia Dortmund and Man City.  We need to take risks on players with only a few dozen games under their belt. When an opportunity to sign a Ntcham or Boyata arises, take it.  And we need to continue to do what we are doing with youth development.

Will it deliver 8-in-a-row?  You bet your bum it will.

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  1. glendalystonsils on

    Since the resumption of action after the winger break,



    Is that a Freudian slip Paul67?



    Milllionsofwingers CSC

  2. Leftbackagain



    So happy to read your news.





    Prayers for goodness to your lovely family



    Previous blog that mentioned Ajer having o’halloran in his pocket. Precisely. I have a lot of time and faith in this young Viking.



    HH jg

  3. traditionalist88 on




    Not have been better to loan Shved to an English club in order to let him experience the style of football in the UK and get to grips with the language (assuming he is not fluent in English already).



    Or was it a condition of the deal he stayed in Ukraine for now?




  4. traditionalist88 on

    ‘I’m no good at judging the number of wingers, Ted, but I’d say there are millions of them out there’




  5. SoT


    Thank you.


    My son has been trying to buy tickets from Valencia website. No joy, due to not having Spanish citizenship. Enjoy Valencia. Beautiful city, probably my favourite European city.



  6. Paul 67,



    Thank you for outlining our current signing strategy. It is along the lines of my thinking.



    So we seem to have ditched the ” Quality over quantity ” much vaulted approach.



    Yes it will help us achieve our football objectives, but at what cost ?



    Our youth development will undoubtedly suffer and the ultra important bond between fans and team will also suffer.



    For the moment it is the modern way.






    PS : You state Tolgen will not be here beyond May, seems a very short 6 months considering its now February.

  7. glendalystonsils on

    Anyone watching Sky Sports summary of transfers last night will have noticed that the number of loan deals far outweighed the purchases.

  8. SoT




    Midnight to six man for the first time from Jamaica,


    Dillinger and Leroy Smart, Delroy Wilson, your cool operator.


    The Clash


    White Man in Hammersmith Palais.


    Crackin Dillinger tune.

  9. Great article. It’s this style of opinion that drew me to CQN. And keeps me coming back.



    Thanks Paul

  10. decent article – but it fail to address the fact that Celtic did not solve glaring defensive frailties. it was nit that long ago that Simunovic , ayer, Henry were leaking goals galore – take out the experience of Tierney and add a ne right back into the mix – its a mess waiting to happen. If boyata is out through Feb , we will drop points away from home.



    IMO feb will be defining for our season.



    the feel good factor is obvious but is fake – we have played airdrie, st.mirren and st Johnstone AT HOME – with benkovic.



    our midfield has one player capable of breaking up play and he has lost a yard – what if he gets injured? we have no defensive cover in there.



    the article mentions Martin o’nail – built teams on strong defensive foundation – teams struggled to get balls into our box. Current Celtic team is more attack minded, granted, however our recent record has indicated major weakness and we will get punished for it – I just hope rangers and killie drop points too.

  11. Big Georges Fan Club - Hail, Hail, Wee Oscar on

    JAMESGANG on 1ST FEBRUARY 2019 11:21 AM


    Previous blog that mentioned Ajer having o’halloran in his pocket. Precisely. I have a lot of time and faith in this young Viking.





    Me and Wee BGFC have man-love for big Ajer – he is a Celtic Ghod in the making. Here some people saying he is too slow – they couldn’t have noticed the very point you make – O’Halloran, a ‘speed merchant’, was in his pocket all night.



    Ajer looks a bit slow because he only has to take three languid strides to move from our penalty box into theirs :-)






  12. I was relatively critical of Celtic’s summer transfer (in)activity. Rightly so, I believe.



    Much happier with our recent work.



    Very good article and highlights the varied approach we must take.



    Will they all make their mark? Who knows. However, kudos to all who put the work in.



    No complaints for me.



    Let’s focus on number 8!

  13. Very Good article, Paul



    We need more of such contributions from yourself and others as we have lost a lot of good contributors recently and, yes I know some exiles are self-imposed but, nonetheless…



    I would add, in response to Greenpinata’s point about adverse effects on our Development Players, that having good players around challenges ours to get better. The only way to get a first team shot is to outshine a first team squad member regularly at training and to keep a high standard in your Development matches. Then you will earn a chance to jump the huge gap from Development Team player to First team Squad project and from there you can try to jump the equally big gap to first team regular.



    If Karamoke Dembele has to be better than James Forrest or Mikey Johnston or Maryan Shved and, for the time being, Timo Weah and Olly Burke, then the wee man will just have to work even harder. I’m sure that, if he is made of the right stuff, he will not be daunted. I just wish there was a youth CB ready to challenge our current incumbents- we have not brought anyone through there since Kennedy & McManus.



    Andy Murray could have stayed in the UK and he’d still have been no.1 in the UK but he would never have made the world’s top 20. Playing with and competing with better players challenges you to reach new heights. If you earn a jersey by just being a bit better than a journeyman player, you do not have to challenge yourself as much. You cannot earn it by Buggin’s turn either.

  14. Have to admit, it looks a good plan, on paper.


    However, the news that DB will be out for Feb at least does not fill me with glee. Hendry will no doubt see some action. I hope we see some improvement. I’m will to give him a chance. BR sees something there.


    In summary, the window has shut, the deals done, we’ve got players and sent them back home, we’ve strengthened the attack but the defence is still a problem area.


    KT out, DB out, Benko out, TR out, CM gone.


    JT in. JH staying.


    Whats not to like?

  15. GlassTwoThirdsFull on

    Very well thought out article, Paul.


    Pretty happy with this window, although I hope we have someone identifying central defenders between now and June, ideally already identified and watching them during the remainder of the season.


    Still stuck with some deadwood for now. Hopefully also fix this in the summer.

  16. Hi Paul67,



    Good article, summarises what we did and where we are after this January’s window.



    Must say, I wasn’t expecting much so not disappointed.



    Securing quality first team players and reducing the squad should be the plan – it’s not.



    Let’s hope the next lot of Jamseys, Callums, Ryans, Kierans etc etc is comparable to this fine body of bhoys or else we are in for some lean pickings…



    For now we can just enjoy what they bring…



    Augmented by some smart (and very expensive I’d imagine) loan signings we can now push on – For me all goals ’til May are achievable.



    Hail Hail

  17. STARRY PLOUGH on 1ST FEBRUARY 2019 12:33 PM


    Celtic have lost 7 goals in the league since the beginning of October and 3 of those were against The Sheep…



    I wish we still had that defence.

  18. Sorry Bhoys didn’t realise that Boyata was out all month thought he was on the way back..



    I’m still confident that the team will have a good month, I didn’t jump on the Kris Ajer bus I thought he had a long way to go, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised with him since he came back.



    As Jock always said the best place to defend is ij the other teams box and with our up front options now I think we’ll be doing plenty of that.

  19. With all the injuries we accumulate over a season, maybe we should invest in a new center with top medical staff and physios, might save money on loanees…

  20. Just before I disappear on the notorious Bath Street Run (which has feck all to do with running and should actually be called the Bath Street Batter) I would like to say that I removed my two filters from my browser and the intrusion of adverts and site responsiveness was as welcoming as the Copeland road.



    Anyway…my pal Grand67 sent me this….who would you pick?





    Hail hail






    Where are the trolls? They were just starting to pop up yesterday afternoon but are pretty quiet.




    Watch out for the ‘good window BUT’ brigade that will inevitably surface as the morning passes.



    Did you mean the anti Celtic trolls?


    Or i the anti Celtic supporter’s trolls?

  22. Several decent points Paul67 and as a positive post it is fine. However, whenever you mention MON – even when being positive –


    you have a ‘pop’ at him. MON made that comment almost twenty years ago and when he did we could operate in a different market but please remember that his ability to truly strengthen the squad ended after the second summer transfer window. Strachan spent more than MON. Fact.



    That aside, yes we do need to be creative and it is not easy. Loan signings can be helpful short term and also on a ‘try to buy’.



    The issue many have with our signing behaviour is that we are reactive, we rarely sign an established player and we ‘stockpile’ which increases a large wage bill.



    The balance isn’t great.



    We are set up okay for the next four months albeit we have injury concerns but I struggle to see how we go up a level with our squad.



    Domestic dominance is great and as somebody that lived and attended CP through the 1990’s its special but 10iar should not just be enough. We had that mentality under NFL at the end and RD. No fault of theirs.



    People are well paid at Celtic in the boardroom and the football side but better decisions could be made when building a squad. Too many ‘projects’.



    Come the Summer we have a huge rebuild defensively unless people are happy to accept just doing enough.

  23. traditionalist88 on



    Celtic have lost 7 goals in the league since the beginning of October and 3 of those were against The Sheep…



    Jus’ sayin’ likesy






    Yet in that time we got 2 points out of a possible 12 away to Livingston, Motherwell, Hibs and Rangers.



    Needs to improve or we won’t be as smug as we are now for long.




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