Charly Musonda, 21, graduate of the Belgian football’s prolific development system, would be unavailable for transfer for £30m. Celtic have paid handsomely for his 18-month loan, with the plan to expose him to the rigours of competitive football here and in Europe.
Brendan Rodgers knows the player will be available for the crucial Champions League qualification games this summer, which itself takes the pressure off having to retain players for the same position who might want away (think back to Stuart Armstrong last summer).
This deal is down to the personal gravitas of the Brendan. No manager in Celtic history would have been able to secure such a deal (they didn’t happen in the Stein era and O’Neill could hardly have been less interested in youth development).
Charly is a gifted, creative, player, who will entertain and excite. His comments about the club yesterday could scarcely have been improved upon by a lifelong Celtic fan. As I watched his Celtic TV interview it was clear this lad with the Ronaldinho smile loves entertaining. So often players look surly and unsure when being interviewed.
This is not a permanent signature, but it is the new reality. Top talent is hoarded by the wealthy few. Clubs who recognise that they have something to contribute to this new scenario have the opportunity to prosper. At Celtic, we can let players:
Experience competitive first team football.
Test themselves in the Champions League.
Work with an acknowledged and respected top coach.
We can also pay appropriate money for the loan.
This isn’t as good as finding a van Dijk for £2.6m, but it will improve our competitiveness in the Champions League.
The impact the signing will make on the rest of the squad will become evident in the weeks to come. This season has been more challenging for Scott Sinclair (yes, despite his remarkable scoring status), but watch him bloom as defenders have another creative headache to worry about. The same dividend will be enjoyed by others.
NEW CQN PODCAST OUT NOW WITH SPECIAL GUEST FRANK McGARVEY
Paul John Dykes and Kevin Graham are joined by Frank McGarvey at The Penalty Spot in Glasgow.
Frank discusses his time at Liverpool, signing for Celtic, his admiration for Jock Stein, his partnership with Charlie Nicholas, the 1985 Scottish Cup final, why this was his final appearance in the hoops, and Love Street 1986.
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