Season three: ins and outs

This season will almost certainly be a watershed moment for the Celtic squad. When Brendan Rodgers finally sees off the last of those players not in his plans.

Since he came to the club in May 2016, he was tasked with taking stock of what players he had and making them better. The squad was bloated with little room for those trying to break through from the development side.

In Brendan’s first two seasons, he has drafted in his own players and a few from the youth ranks. He has also shown the door to a fair few as part of that process.

So far, the manager has bid farewell to 28 players through sales or expired/terminated contracts. In return he has acquired the services of 15 players, not including those on loan.

A total of 5 players (Roberts, Bain, Edouard, Musonda and Arzani) have come in on loan with 2 of those (Edouard and Bain) turning permanent thus making up a portion of Brendan’s 15 permanent acquisitions. Similarly, Kolo Toure and Emilio Izaguirre have been both been acquired and departed under in that time albeit in opposite directions.

Before the transfer windows closes at the end of the month the amount of permanent exits could go up to and beyond 30. Fans would also like to see the incoming number rise as well.

This mass movement was high on the agenda and to be fair to Brendan he has done a good job. Not all of his signings have made a big impact, but there is still time for some of them to do so.

What can be agreed on is that the number of players he is working with now is much more manageable. The squad became so inflated with poor or average quality that it has taken this long to trim it down.

Some will feel this can be reduced a little more. And by the end of this season it will, but the club also need to recruit.

As I have mentioned before, we have players out of contract at the end of the season. No more than half are likely to be here after that point.

Ryan Christie, Scott Allan, Dedryck Boyata, James Forrest, Cristian Gamboa, Scott Brown, Dorus de Vries, Mikael Lustig and now Emilio Izaguirre are all in that position. Top of that agenda is Boyata.

He carries a value which right now is of more importance to the club than his services. The debacle of the last couple of weeks turned on its head when Brendan claimed the Belgian was back in contention.

The fans have already taken to social media to vent their feelings on this. And they are well within their rights.

We don’t know the full story around this matter, but as I said the other day, it is clear that the player’s agent has been involved. I was of the opinion that we would never see Boyata in the Hoops again, but if we do I wouldn’t expect him to get a warm welcome.

Also in the news is Sunderland’s interest in Ryan Christie. The midfielder has never really gotten the chance to make it at Celtic and after two loans spells since he joined the club, looks like he’ll spend the last year of his contract either on loan or in a permanent move.

Scott Allan is another player in the same situation. Never really having got the chance to play for Celtic, he has had three loan spells away from the club.

Before John McGinn’s move to Aston Villa, many thought a return to Hibernian was on the cards as part of a deal. He could still end up back at Hibs, but whether the two clubs could come to an agreement after failing to do so early enough to secure McGinn’s services this summer, I wouldn’t put my money on it.

Dorus de Vries plays a silent role in the Celtic squad these days. When he was brought in to challenge Craig Gordon it had the desired effect, but he will almost certainly leave next summer unless he is a wanted man elsewhere before that stage.

Having been very much a forgotten player these past two seasons, Cristian Gamboa looks to have played himself into contention. His early season efforts following a decent World Cup have garnered support amongst the fans and quite rightly so.

Again, he has barely seen game time at the Hoops, but he has put himself in the frame for a run in the team. That may leave Mikael Lustig in a tough position because he is also in the last year of his contract.

If one of these players is to get a new deal after next summer, Gamboa is in pole position. Not only does he have youth on his side, but he is looking good right now.

A few weeks ago I would have put it the other way around. Nothing to say that can’t change again though.

James Forrest, a very important player for Celtic right now, will almost certainly extend his deal. Once things have settled down and the transfer window is closed, I would expect that to be a formality.

The returning Emilio Izaguirre is also out of contract next summer. That isn’t much of a concern for Celtic right now, but I think everyone is in agreement that it is good to have him back even if it is just for a year.

That brings me to club captain Scott Brown. Broony has made a slow start to the season, but I can’t imagine he would leave next summer.

Any new deal is likely to involve a coaching role. He may also find himself playing less football as his long-term replacement will need game time.

Eboue Kouassi was earmarked as that player so you would think that more appearances are coming his way. Though Celtic also have Nir Bitton to come back from injury to step into the defensive midfield role.

With 10 days left in this window there could be further ins and outs to come. Some of that could rest on Celtic’s participation in the Europa League.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac

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