Armstrong: another premature departee

When Stuart Armstrong extended his contract last year, I wasn’t of the same opinion as some others. That Celtic had secured another year just to prevent losing him for free this summer.

Having completed probably the best season of his career I felt that perhaps the deal that was struck kept both party’s options open, allowing them to revisit talks after hopefully another good season. That should have allowed Armstrong to get back on track and deliver the goods once more, but it didn’t.

Aside from below average form, he missed 15 games last season through injury. He still managed 41 appearances, but without the same impact of the previous season under Brendan Rodgers.

And that’s why now even though he is set to leave, I’m not too disappointed anymore. Armstrong has jumped ship early from a club that would have continued to serve him well.

What I am disappointed about is that he doesn’t appear to have valued Celtic as much as we valued him. It’s clear he has his own goals which in a way I can understand, but you can’t help but feel a little bit betrayed.

Whether it is money or just an ambition to play in England, he won’t be looking back and neither will we. Celtic have players who have demonstrated application, dedication and a willingness to work for this team.

Stuart Armstrong could’ve been a big player at Celtic, possibly even a captain. But his ambition has led him beyond Celtic and he joins a list of others who followed the money south too quickly.

What will be interesting to see is how that ambition unravels. I’m seldom bitter about players moving on to prosper elsewhere so long as they’ve given it their all at the club who helped get them there in the first place.

You always know when a squad member has either reached the pinnacle or become too hot a talent that it is difficult to stand in their way. And that’s just the issue, I don’t think Armstrong has achieved either of those milestones at Celtic.

This is a self motivated, premature transfer. At 26 years old, the midfielder could’ve had one or two more years and still got a move south as a more complete player and possibly even to a bigger club.

Because that isn’t the case, he might find himself failing to get a move from Southampton to a better Premier League club as others have. Unless he hits the ground running in that initial move south he could find himself stagnating in Hampshire.

Guys like Victor Wanyama and Virgil van Dijk have all proven their worth at Southampton, having fulfilled good periods of consistency at Celtic, then got bigger moves within England. Stuart Armstrong isn’t even in that category, yet I get the impression he thinks that he is.

All I can say is that I hope it works out for him and his career turns out as he desired. I don’t wish him any misfortune, I just think he’s jumped the gun here.

One good season doesn’t make you a star. You have to reproduce that quality over and over and he hasn’t.

I don’t think he was holding the club to ransome. His ambition is simply leading him away.

The good thing for Celtic is that they will be making a tidy profit from this. Furthermore, they are not losing a player that is irreplaceable or leaving a huge gap in the squad.

There are players queuing up for a midfield spot in Brendan Rodgers’ revolution. And that’s before considering potential transfer possibilities.

I mean, do Celtic even need to go out and buy John McGinn as has been suggested? We have plenty in the ranks already who deserve a shot.

Ryan Christie could be that man. Young, energetic and dynamic.

He’s amongst a batch of midfield talent we’ve seen very little of in a Hoops jersey. With Armstrong moving on I’d say his chances just got better.

Might that even mean Scott Allan is back in contention? Personally, I feel that ship has sailed, but my viewpoint has now been altered by Armstrong’s pending exit.

Nir Bitton, whilst not the same type of midfielder, has yet to return to the middle of the park having seen more action at centre half last season. Eboue Kouassi and Kundai Benyu are two players trying to break past the regulars.

And when you consider that those regulars consist of Callum McGregor, Olivier Ntcham, Tom Rogic and Scott Brown we are not devoid of options. Celtic are not weakened by the departure of Armstrong in the slightest but there is an exciting opportunity for someone.

Whatever may happen, I don’t think Celtic need to delve into the transfer market. That player may already be here already unless further movement changes that situation.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac

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