CHELSEA are poised to ditch their interest in Craig Gordon and turn their attention to Brighton keeper David Stockdale.
The London outfit are looking for back-up to Thibaut Cortois if Asmir Begovic joins Bournemouth in a £10million deal before the transfer window closes on Tuesday night.
They made an unsuccessful £3million bid for the Celtic keeper on Thursday.
Now boss Antonio Conte, who has been linked with a host of alternative shotstoppers, is now lining up Stockdale.
The former Fulham keeper, 31, has just six months to run on his current contract and is looking for a lucrative new deal.
Stockdale would land that at Stamford Bridge – although he would have to play second fiddle to the Belgian international.
Hoops gaffer Brendan Rodgers has already told Gordon he is a Champions League star and not a training ground keeper.
Meanwhile Celtic’s interest in 19-year-old Nigerian striker Henry Onyekuru should please fans as it shows the club is continuing the policy of recruiting exciting young talent.
He has netted 10 goals in his first season in the Belgian Pro League and it is difficult to prise such players away, but Celtic have pulled off some real coups of late.
Scott Sinclair signing was a great result considering he was good enough to once earn a move to Man City and is still in his prime. Even better was the £500,000 signing of Moussa Dembele, who was one of the hottest strikers in the Championship.
Dembele has lit up the Champions League and the Premiership this season and he will only improve as he is only 20. He has bags of potential and will more than likely decide to leave Celtic one day, but when he does the club should be able to make a tidy profit on him, wish him well and reinvest in the squad.
Some may have questioned Dembele’s move to Celtic when some EPL clubs were interested in him, but in a lot of ways it makes perfect sense. Yes, players want to make big money, but they also want silverware. Joining Celtic represents a great chance of winning trophies and endearing yourself to a large and passionate fan base of a huge club and incidentally the money’s not that bad at Celtic. Joining many EPL clubs does not. And for someone like Dembele, he can rack up winners medals, get some solid Champions League experience, and as he continues to develop he can move on while still a relatively young man.
These are the sort of players Celtic should be going after, and Onyekuru seems to fit the bill. He has explosive pace and is a superb finisher, so he could terrorise defences in Scotland. It would follow on from the £2.8million signing of Ivorian midfielder Kouassi Eboue, also 19, and this strategy makes the future look very rosy indeed for Celtic.
What a contrast it had provided to The Rangers’ strategy. Signing washed up EPL players like Joey Barton and Philippe Senderos has not worked from them at all and they are now 22 points behind Celtic and have no chance of winning the league. Odds on the Betonline sportsbook show that Celtic are ridiculous favourites to win the league and nobody is going to bother backing them at 1,000-1 on. Who wants to spend £1,000 and wait until the end of the season to make £1?
The arrival in the Premiership of The Rangers was supposed to make things competitive and put a stop to Celtic’s utter domination. If anything Celtic are pulling away from The Rangers. They have performed a lot better this season than they did last campaign, and have a great shot at being the first Scottish top flight side to ever go a full season without tasting defeat.
Celtic have already beaten The Rangers, Aberdeen and Hearts homeland away and they are now just 7/2 to finish the season unbeaten and join the likes of Juventus and Arsenal as Invincibles.
That looks a very tempting bet right now.
If Celtic can capture more players like Onyekuru their dominance in Scotland will continue unchecked for many years. The superb manager the club has in Brendan Rodgers should give them the impetus they need to keep striving for improvement, and fans might end up seeing some better runs in the Champions League, which of course attracts more up and coming stars and perpetuates the positive cycle.