We’ve known for a while the strategic alliance Celtic have had with Manchester City, but how we have burrowed into the France international youth setup is, frankly, highly unlikely for a Scottish club.
First came Moussa, then Olivier.
Olivier Ntcham (21) will have known Moussa Dembele (21) from the French youth setup, and Patrick Roberts from their time at Man City. How both flourished at Celtic last season was a prime motivator for the player to head north.
With Olivier and Moussa flourishing in Glasgow, Brendan Rodgers was able to convince a third French youth international, Odsonne Edouard (19), to come to Celtic. We are now an attractive destination for players graduating from one of the world’s most productive international academy environments.
Edouard is here on loan. Celtic have the option secured with both Paris Saint-Germain and the player to turn this into a permanent transfer, should he developed as hoped over the next season.
The story is a little more complicated than just this, however. Odsonne was convicted of shooting someone with an air gun in July and given a suspended sentence. This, frankly, is grossly irresponsible and a suspended sentence is one of the better outcomes for Odsonne. Whatever influences were in his life leading up to this point, a new course needs to be taken in Glasgow.
I have no doubt that this conviction thinned the heard of some potential suitors, unprepared to take the risk on him. He has a year to develop his potential and set himself a new course. If he does, Celtic will acquire a remarkable talent for what in the current market, is a snip.
Patrick Roberts back on loan means that we have retained all first team players from last season, while augmenting the squad with several others. Patrick agreed terms to join permanently, but Manchester City were not prepared to let him go. They, like many others, believe there could be enormous potential on Celtic’s right wing this season. What happens next summer is too far away to contemplate with any certainty.
Jonny Hayes now looks third choice for the right wing slot, but he’s more likely to be utilised as backup for Scott Sinclair on the left. While Patrick Roberts was pursued throughout the summer, we were always going to have to wait until City made their decisions. This left us with only James Forrest for the right wing position for the qualifiers – and James is no stranger to injury. Jonny was available early in the window, so was an appropriate acquisition.
Kundai Benyu (19) arrived from Ipswich after a season on loan at Aldershot. Like Hayes, he can cover for Sinclair in left mid.
Rivaldo Coetzee (20) is the one that got away. He would have competed with Kristofer Ajer for the fourth central defender berth. With Simunovic fit, and Boyata and Sviatchenko both back from injury this month, there was no chance of us splurging big on a central defender. A strategic purchase, like Coetzee, was another matter.
The litmus test for any transfer window is, did we come out of it better than we went into it? Such outcomes are seldom evident the day after the window closes, but having retained all, and added such potential, we have delivered.
What we need to do now is develop Ntcham, Edouard and the others, win the league, perform well in the Champions League, and solidify our position as a club where outstanding talent will flourish and succeed. This is what success looks like for an economically disenfranchised giant in a highly dysfunctional industry.