We are in the midst of an international week and as such transfer speculation is rife. Without any football on the TV, newspapers across the United Kingdom and wider continent get to work on finding other things to fill their pages with. And it almost always means new transfer rumours.
This week saw Scott Sinclair linked with a return to the English Premier League, according to the Scottish press. Only for Harry Redknapp to then lean out of his car window and suggest the former Chelsea forward would do an excellent job at Bournemouth next season. Sports entertainment at its best.
Yet aside from the banality of transfer rumours, there is probably some truth behind the idea that Sinclair may wish to move on this summer after finding himself spending more and more time on Brendan Rodgers’ bench. He might not be the only one to leave Celtic this summer.
At this moment in time Celtic have no less than four first-team players on loan at the club, with deals expiring at the end of the season, as well as eight of their own players entering the final year of their contracts. And almost each and every one of them has played a pivotal role in this season’s campaign.
In defence, Celtic will be waving goodbye to on-loan shot-stopper Scott Bain unless a permanent deal can be agreed between them and his parent club, Hibernian. And if not then Rodgers’ backroom staff may have to rush a new contract through for back-up keeper Dorus de Vries, whose deal expires next June.
Similarly, both of Celtic’s right backs – Mikael Lustig and Cristian Gamboa – have struggled to impress this season. The former finally looks his age and the latter has never truly reach the heights demanded of him since his move from the Premier League. That may ultimately leave very little desire to sign either up to a new contract.
Another defender who may find himself moving on this summer is also Dedryck Boyata. Like his aforementioned colleagues in defence, the Belgian’s contract expires next summer and despite playing 30 games for Celtic this season he continues to frustrate not only his manager but the fans at Celtic Park with routine mishaps in crucial games.
Couple that with rumours and genuine reports of Jozo Šimunović leaving the club each and every window and you have a Celtic defensive line that could be five or six men short come the start of the new season.
Yet it is in midfield that things really become quite interesting. Although club captain Scott Brown isn’t likely to go anywhere when his deal runs out in 2019, both Tom Rogic and Stuart Armstrong could also leave for free next year. That may force Celtic into some uncomfortable positions in just a few months time.
When asked about his contract situation earlier in the week Armstrong was quite blunt, stating: “I’m not going to talk about that just now.”
Reports in Australia have suggested that Rogic is not only unhappy with his situation at Celtic but could also pivot towards a move after this year’s World Cup.
Although Celtic are in a fantastic financial state at the moment and would be able to turn down lucrative offers at their discretion, things become a little trickier if either Armstrong or Rogic decide to simply play out their contract. A tactical move which would probably force the Scottish champions to cash in on both of them this summer.
Celtic face a similar problem on the right wing. On the right, Celtic face the dual problem of Patrick Roberts leaving the club at the end of his second loan deal unless a substantial offer is sent towards Manchester City, while James Forrest will also find himself just 12 months away from leaving the club for free after his best ever season in the green and white hoops.
Forrest will most likely agree a new deal after seeing his game improve remarkably under Rodgers’ tutelage. Although the Scottish international rejected a new contract just before the current Celtic manager took over in Glasgow, a lot has changed since then and the pacy winger seems to be pivotal to any Celtic team going forward in to next season.
Alternatively, the Scottish champions were desperate to sign Roberts permanently last summer but couldn’t agree terms with City. And after a campaign that has saw the young, English forward spend much of his season out injured and then overtaken by Forrest’s improvements there’s no certainty that Rodgers would still be interested in blowing a huge hole in his transfer budget for the player.
Further issues for the club also come in the form of the current front line. Although Leigh Griffiths is tied down until 2021 and shows no interest in leaving, Celtic will most likely have to contend with both Sinclair and Moussa Dembélé entertaining offers or speculation linking them with moves away from Glasgow this summer.
If so, Celtic may then opt in to a clause in Odsonne Édouard’s contract that allows the Scottish champions to sign the young French international for around £7million. That is a move that could prove quite astute in the long term if either Sinclair or Dembélé are sold to the highest bidder in June.
Of course, a club the size of Celtic will never struggle to entice young, exciting players to their cause or indeed keep them happy in Glasgow. Yet this summer should prove quite challenging to the club as they try and keep a large chunk of their star-studded team happy and some distance away from the exit door.