The thing about signing footballers who can transform you, those with real talent which has yet to be realised by the wider market, is that they are unbelievably difficult to find. Getting this right is not the only requirement in propelling a club forward, but it is a necessary one.
You also need to transform the potential you sign into an end product. So much talent is left to wither on the vine across European football as clubs hoard talent in an attempt to control their corner of the market. If you can align great recruitment with manager who has the space to allow talent to develop, you are very fortunate.
Reputation counts as well. To all the world, it looked like we picked Benfica’s pocket with Jota. Why would they let another great prospect leave on the same path? Benfica won big time with Jota. They gave him to a club that was able to transform him into a £25m player, with a significant remittance going back to Lisbon.
That’s why we got Paulo Bernardo. Benfica didn’t have space to develop him but they’re not stupid. They know he has potential and they believe Celtic can transform him into a seriously good central midfielder.
Legia Warsaw earned €5m when they sold Maik Nawrocki to Celtic, but that’s only half the deal. Legia are equally interested in the hefty sell-on fee they hope to earn when Celtic raise his profile south of the border.
Right now we have a reputation with players, agents and selling clubs as a place where great talent can come, thrive, and navigate a road to the top. Recruitment, development and reputation feed a virtuous cycle.
Recruiting young players with great potential in such a transparent and competitive environment is almost impossibly difficult, but we have to be ruthlessly wedded to getting this right. Developing players like this should be easier at Celtic than almost anywhere else. We win lots, usually with plenty to spare, who else can say this? Do this well and getting a great reputation is a consequence.
Paulo Bernardo (21) had started two Scottish Premiership and two Champions League games before 23 December. His four starts since then, including his visit to Paisley yesterday, where he delivered two assists, illustrate where we are as a club. Maik Nawrocki is earlier in his journey but is already showing why he is in Glasgow. More of this, please.