Croatian World Cup star Josip Juranovic appears to be set for a move away from Celtic in the upcoming window, with reports suggesting he may leave for as little as £8 – 10M.
This sounds far less than we should expect for a player of his profile, particularly off the back of an excellent tournament in Qatar.
However, whether or not Juranovic moves on in the coming weeks, are we now about to see the realisation of Celtic’s new transfer strategy play out in full?
Is Juranovic set to be the first high profile exit of the Ange era?
And as Ange suggested in his comments at the recent AGM, should we now be preparing to say goodbye to some of our latest heroes in the latest evolution of the club under his leadership?
In Juranovic’s case, the fee we receive should be notable, however I’m not sure the money received matters as much as the player’s destination does.
Hear me out!
For Celtic’s transfer model to succeed, we need to demonstrate that signing for us is a genuine career milestone for players who may then be looking to take the next step to a club that’s seen as a genuine Champions League contender.
There are a lot of talented young players on Celtic’s radar, and when those players are mapping out the early stages of their career the end goal for many of them will be to ultimately star in the Champions League.
Not just as a group stage participant however, but with a side who have a genuine chance of lifting the top prize in club football.
To reach that end goal we must be able to show Celtic as a credible step in the journey.
We need a body of evidence to show that spending a few seasons plying their trade in the East End of Glasgow can help them to get where they want to be.
FINDING OUR PLACE IN THE MODERN GAME
The biggest sides across Dutch and Portuguese football have developed this model in recent years.
Red Bull Salzburg have also done so with much success (although they’ve also benefitted from substantial financial backing).
These are the clubs we should be looking to emulate and become regular contenders with.
Despite the new look and feel at Celtic under Ange Postecoglou and his support staff, I don’t believe our model has changed all that dramatically over the past 20 years or so.
We have always looked to buy young, develop, showcase, and then sell.
The issue we’ve had has been getting the best young players to come to the club in the first place.
The markets we’ve been shopping in are very crowded. Clubs with much stronger resources than us are also scouting extensively across Europe and it’s become much more difficult to bring top quality youngsters to Glasgow.
Teams in Portugal, Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and even Switzerland haven’t had the same limitations on where they can bring players in from.
They’ve become the first stop in Europe for many of the games top players before moving on to the English Premiership or other top 5 leagues.
Erling Haaland’s spell in Austria at Red Bull Salzburg is a prime example of this.
He’s now the No.1 striker in the English Premier League, and a man set to break all modern goalscoring records.
WORK PERMIT GAME CHANGER
One thing that’s been holding us back in this area over the years has been work permit rules.
Clubs from competing nations have been able to be more imaginative about their signings. They haven’t had to wait until players become regular full internationals before signing them.
That has now changed.
We’re now a genuine option for high potential players from pretty much anywhere in the world. We just need to build the case that Celtic is the best place for them to reach their career goals.
In the time since Ange arrived we’ve already seen Celtic make full use of the work permit changes.
This January we expect to see at least 2 new signings from Japan – taking our total number of Japanese players to 6.
In the summer Alexandro Bernabei became our very first Argentinian player.
These are moves that simply wouldn’t have been possible before the rules changed.
It really is a game changer and with our league being next door to the richest league in the world its something we can and should take full advantage of.
We share a language with those clubs. Culturally we are very similar. Even the weather is very similar.
Showing you can come and play in Scotland should be a benefit to English scouts looking to pick up the next ready made young talent north of the border.
THE STRENGTH OF THE SCOTTISH LEAGUE
We’re also seeing some creative signings recently from clubs such as Aberdeen, which should help improve the standard in our league.
I was looking at the domestic transfer success from the various leagues that I believe we should be comparable to.
It quickly became clear that the big clubs all make a considerable amount of signings from clubs within their own leagues.
In Scotland over the past few seasons there really hasn’t been a lot of standout players that have faced Celtic. I think its in our interests for our league to get stronger.
If the quality across Scottish football improves, it could become a key market for us to identify new signings from.
Unfortunately, for this to happen it’ll require wholesale changes in the structure of our game and I’m not optimistic that’s going to happen any time soon.
NEXT STEPS FOR CELTIC’S NEW TRANSFER STRATEGY
I believe the next step is to showcase players who arrive at Celtic, perform at a high level with us for a couple of seasons, and then move to one of those genuine Champions League contenders.
The fees involved aren’t the be all and end all, but a Josip Juranovic moving to a Manchester United, a Chelsea or a Barcelona for example could really start to change the landscape here.
Ahead of any such move, Celtic would in turn benefit from having a succession of top, highly motivated young players within our ranks, enabling us as a club to be more competitive in the Champions League year in and year out.
I believe we will be an easy club for agents and buying clubs to deal with.
We’ll need to be if the plan is for there will be a high turnover of players both in and out.
We’ll of course maintain a core group to encourage continuity, but for Celtic to grow we shouldn’t be getting too caught up in how much each individual player leaves for (within reason!).
The focus should be on how we get the very best young players to come here in the first place, and to spend the couple of seasons they need to establish themselves before moving on.
If we get this right, there is nothing stopping us from finally being able to punch our weight in Europe.
The latest episode of The Celtic Exchange is a very special interview with Celtic Legend Martin O’Neill.
You can listen to the full episode on the player below or on your preferred podcast player at the links here.