VAKOUN ISSOUF BAYO has joined Jack Hendry in exiting Celtic since the arrival of Ange Postecoglou 26 days ago.
The Ivorian flop striker confirmed his £1.4million move to KAA Gent after a less than impressive two-and-a-half year stay at Parkhead following his £2million switch from Slovakian club Dunajska Streda in January 2019, a month before Brendan Rodgers headed for Leicester City.
Bayo, 24, netted a mere two goals for the Hoops – against lower league sides Partick Thistle and Clyde – in 19 appearances and spent last season on loan at French second-tier outfit Toulouse. He took to Instagram to say: “Thanks for everything, Celtic.”
Scotland international centre-back Hendry, another of Rodgers’ signings at £1.2million from Dundee In January 2018, was also allowed to leave last summer on a season-long temporary transfer to another Belgian club, KV Oostende, who made the switch permanent in a £1.75million deal last month.
Dismissing the ongoing speculation of the reported wantaway trio of Odsonne Edouard, Kristoffer Ajer and Ryan Christie and the off-the-field issues of Leigh Griffiths, new boss Postecoglou can now turn his attention to three other ‘problem Bhoys’ in the shape of Olivier Ntcham, Maryan Shved and Boli Bolingoli.
In another CQN SPECIAL, we turn the spotlight on the French midfielder, the Ukrainian winger and the Belgian defender.
The one-time Manchester City prospect, who cost Rodgers £4.5million when he joined from the Etihad giants in June 2017, appears to be in line for another chance under Neil Lennon’s successor.
Ntcham spent a miserable time at Marseille in the second half of the season, failed to make an impression and was handed back to Celtic at the expiry of his deal. The 25-year-old playmaker also saw a proposed summer switch to AEK Athens collapse before making his first appearance for Postecoglou as a second-half substitute in the 2-1 weekend win over Charlton in Wales.
HAPPIER TIMES…Olivier Ntcham thumps the winner past Allan McGregor at Parkhead in 2018.
The club chief, as reported on Sky Sports News, said: “I had chats with him and he said he wanted to come back and make an impression this year.
“I take that at face value. He has been good at training.
“He is lacking a bit of match touch and fitness, but he is part of the squad and, hopefully, he can make an impact this year.”
Ntcham still has 12 months to run on his contract and will have to prove himself all over again to his manager, his team-mates and, of course, the fans.
The 23-year-old flanker’s arrival at Parkhead in January 2019 wasn’t exactly greeted with any overwhelming enthusiasm by Rodgers who wondered about the wisdom of another winger being added to the squad.
Shved, like Hendry, spent the last campaign in Belgian football after agreeing a loan deal with Mechelen, but he now faces uncertainty after failing to make the squad that was taken to Wales for the pre-season games.
The international, who was immediately returned on loan to his Ukrainian club Karpaty Lviv after the reported £2million move, struggled for game time under Neil Lennon, managing just two appearances in all competitions in the 2019/20 campaign.
Mechelen have yet to reach an agreement with the Hoops hierarchy to bring the player back on loan and aren’t sure whether they will manage to strike a deal now.
HIGH JINKS…Maryan Shved is beaten to the ball by a Clyde defender in the Scottish Cup-tie at Broadwood in 2020.
Shved, speaking to the Daily Record, has already stated his preference, saying: “I want to stay in Mechelen. I was never given a chance at Celtic. I got the opportunity here that I didn’t get at Celtic.
“I am really pleased with how last season went because I had a lot of game time and that helped me build my confidence.
“At first, when I arrived here, I didn’t adapt to either my new club or Belgian football. But I got stronger both mentally and physically and I have been happy with my form.
“I want to stay at Mechelen because I know here I have the manager’s trust. And no footballer can play without trust.”
Shved, 24, still has two years left on his Celtic deal, but has made only three substitute appearances while turning out 22 times for the Belgians. He scord a superb goal for the Hoops in his debut as a late substitute in a Champions League qualifier against Nomme Kalju in July 2019.
But it still wasn’t enough to convince boss Lennon to hand him a run in the top side.
The Belgian left-back, a £3million purchase from Rapid Vienna by Neil Lennon in the summer of 2019, was involved in the controversial and catastrophic secret trip to high-risk Spain 11 months ago that helped to derail Celtic’s season.
The 26-year-old defender ignored government Covid quarantine protocols upon his return, trained at Lennoxtown with the rest of his team-mates and made a cameo appearance in the 1-1 draw with Kilmarnock at Rugby Park on August 9.
Once his hush-hush journey had been discovered, Holyrood rulers cancelled crucial fixtures against St Mirren and Aberdeen before the club packed the errant player off to Turkey in a season-long loan deal with champions Istanbul Basaksehir where he had 12 outings before being injured. The club will not be pursuing a permanent deal for the player.
TURK IT OR LEAVE IT…bad Bhoy Boli Bolingoli poses with Basaksehir jersey after agreeing a season-long loan deal.
Another Turkish side, newly-promoted Altay Izmir, have expressed an interest in Bolingoli who still has two years remaining on his contract.
Bolingoli is with the squad in Wales, but has failed to figure in the matches against Sheffield Wednesday and Charlton and must be hoping for some game time against Bristol City on Wednesday.
Postecoglou revealed the attack-minded full-back is suffering a minor injury and, speaking to the Daily Record, added: “We are hoping it won’t keep him out for too long, maybe two or three days.”
Amid the uncertainty, one thing is abundantly clear – the day of reckoning is looming for the Celtic futures of Ntcham, Shved and Bolingoli.