Brendan Rodgers has claimed that Stuart Armstrong’s form is being affected by unresolved contract talks. Whilst I agree with the obvious I would also say that this is having an impact in the dressing room and amongst the fans.
Uncertain futures raise concerns about a player’s application, dedication and happiness. You don’t get many players like Kieran Tierney, but he’s in a different bracket altogether – Mr Celtic you might say.
I was discussing Armstrong’s situation with a friend at the weekend. We agreed on all of the positives and negatives about Armstrong playing down south or staying a Celtic.
The most significant point we agreed on was the player’s final decision. That if he failed to agree a new Celtic contract we wouldn’t lose sleep over his departure.
You may ask why this was our thoughts or you may already know or think the same. The fact is, nobody is bigger than the club though you can win the fan’s hearts and minds if you play it right.
I was just as pleased as any other Celtic supporter to see Armstrong flourish for the Hoops last season. We all knew he wasn’t playing in the right position under Ronny Deila.
In his two-and-a-half years at the club he has had one stand out season. That’s as much down to Brendan as it is down to Armstrong though.
If you bear those two facts in mind then you have to say to the players negotiators “Just how strong a position are you in to get a better deal?” A Premiership club may double or treble his Celtic terms, but one good season doesn’t make you a god.
Whilst the details of any offer are unknown to me, I would imagine that the Celtic offer is a decent one for the immediate future. The player’s advisors shouldn’t get carried away until he’s proven he can repeat the same form.
Armstrong is a natural, but he is far from the finished article. Using the Premier League as a bargaining chip is a sly yet common tool by agents.
The question for the player is does he want to become the best he can be under Brendan Rodgers or does he take the money and his chances down south? The manager is convinced of the former and my gut instinct is the same and we know all to well how moving south turned out for many other former Celts.
Understandably, I would find it very hard to say “no thanks” if I was offered twice or treble my salary. In my current job it would be a no brainer, but in football there are other factors.
There are some really average players earning tonnes of money down south. If money is the key factor for Armstrong and he has an offer from a Premier League club then he should take it.
If he truly wants to be a better player, become a club legend, play in Europe, win domestic silverware and maybe even captain the club one day then it is probably only going to happen at Celtic. Down south he’ll get the money, but that’s about it unless he secured a decent move.
To get a club in England that offers the same chance of success as Celtic he’d need to have good back-to-back seasons. So far he only has one and that will only secure him an average side.
Virgil an Dijk, Fraser Forster and Victor Wanyama are all players who made a name for themselves over a period of time. They all got their moves eventually and Armstrong can still get his if he wants it, but he has plenty of time and isn’t in the same bracket of the players I’ve just mentioned.
Why not take a new deal at Celtic, continue to prosper under Brendan Rodgers and raise your status whilst winning trophies? In a couple of years you would be in a much better position to negotiate a decent move south or a bumper deal at Celtic.
If done right, Armstrong could have a very good decade in the game. So far there is little to suggest any progress has been made.
So as much as a new deal is important, Armstrong’s advisors should not be overstating the players case at this stage. It is having an impact on the player, the team and the fans.
Armstrong is a fantastic player who can have a very career in the game. Now he needs to step in take control of this situation and make a decision.