One-and-a-half good seasons and one awful season. That’s how to sum up Stefan Johansen’s Celtic career to date.
The Norwegian internationalist joined Celtic from Stromsgodset in the January transfer window of 2014. He made an encouraging impact and collected a league title medal with virtual ease.
Although signed by Neil Lennon, Johansen wouldn’t blossom until his first full season. By this time it was under new manager Ronny Deila, who had followed his student to Celtic within a matter of months.
Having been crowned SPFA Player of the Year and Celtic Player of the Year by the fans and he became a mainstain the midfield. However, Johansen’s second full season couldn’t have been more different.
He failed to emulate the kind of performances that made him a key player for Deila. There wasn’t a shard of the previous season in his play.
Eventually he would blame it on a back problem but I’ve never bought into that. If his back was so bad he should never have been playing as many games as he did so that doesn’t hold any water with me.
Celtic had injuries, yes. However, adequate and fit players in a midfield role, the club had in abundance.
The squad was looking fragmented but Deila stuck with Johansen even though he wasn’t playing well. It annoyed many supporters that the manager remained so loyal to Johansen when he was clearly not at his best.
Having put a miserable season behind him, I was of the opinion he may rediscover his form under Brendan Rodgers. I mean, you don’t suddenly turn into a poor performer overnight without good reason.
With the latest rumour suggestion an exit is on the cards, perhaps Stefan has lost his desire for Celtc. It’s a strange one though.
Should he go, fine, I’ve got no problem if players aren’t interested any more. The squad is overflowing with midfielders as it is.
Another space free, another opportunity for another Celtic player to step up. I don’t think Rodgers would rush out to replace him when you have guys like Tom Rogic, Callum McGregor, Ryan Christie, Scott Allan and Liam Henderson all vying for regular football this coming season.
Even Scott Brown, Kris Commons and Nir Bitton have a place to fight for. I’d also like to see more of Stuart Armstrong in a central position.
Still, this remains a rumour. Time will tell whether there is any truth to it or if it’s another just another ‘Efe’ story.
As it is there’s further rumours about our midfield personnel in the shape of Nir Bitton. His form hasn’t been as affected as badly as team mate Johansen’s, but like many Celtic players season wasn’t at his best.
Again, if it is his desire to move on, which at this stage is still specualation, why stand in his way? If the money is right, there are plenty more fish in the sea.
There is a requirement to allow youth to flourish but if you’re accommodating a plethora of senior players at the same time then something has to give. We’ll how things pan out but my feeling on this is that I would be happy either way.
As for today, Celtic face Olimpija Ljubljana in their third preseason fixture. It’s another chance for Brendan Rodgers to tinker with team selection whilst casting his eye over his players.
One of those players is likely to be new signing Moussa Dembélé. He’s scheduled to make his debut and even though it’s a friendly, all eyes will be on him.