Celtic target, David Turnbull, gave a thumbs up to the camera after coming through an operation on Tuesday morning to correct knee ligament damage. The 19-year-old central midfielder had a busy June. He looked set to join Celtic, before the champions Tweeted they had put their final offer in front of the player’s representative and would walk away if necessary.
Turnbull then travelled to Norwich City, who were promoted to the English Premiership in May. A week passed without a move being confirmed, before it emerged he returned to Scotland and decided to take accept the offer from Celtic.
Neil Lennon told a media conference the player agreed terms and was due for a medical but confirmation of the deal never arrived. After a further five day delay, is emerged Turnbull failed his medical after an MRI scan on his knee revealed the damage.
The player had never missed a senior game since breaking into the Motherwell team and did not miss a training session in four years, so he and his parent club were shocked at the news.
Celtic offered to take the player on loan and put him through the operation and subsequent rehabilitation, with an option to buy, if he passed a future medical, but Motherwell decided to retain control of the situation and immediately arranged today’s operation.
Rehab for this kind of injury is a lengthy process. The player is unlikely to be fit for the January transfer window, although, all going well, he will be back before the end of the season. Expectations are that Celtic will move again for the player then, but lots can change in that time.
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Celtic need to recruit midfield players for the coming season. Others, such as Ewan Henderson, will continue to push for places in the team from the youth ranks. If Celtic have an over-supply of young midfield talent by then, they may allocate the £3.25m transfer fee to other areas.
Motherwell were unusually forthright in announcing the deal online, explaining the incoming funds would pay off all debts and established a solid operating platform. They will hope their prize asset returns to full fitness. The scenario is also complicated by Turnbull’s contract, which will only have 12 months to run next summer. Motherwell will do well to get £3.25m for a player who has played little football in a year and who will soon be a free agent.
The move would have been life changing for David Turnbull. All the player can do now is put the disappointment out of his head, allow his injury to heal, and when his knee gets the green light, work as hard as possible at getting back to his best.
The consequences of a knee injury for a footballer has changed over the years. Previously, this kind of injury ended a career. Since then, advances have meant better remediation, with fewer consequences of surgery. Turnbull will also be consoled with the fact that his ligament did not snap, necessitating more significant repair. This was preventative surgery. His prognosis should be good.