A premature end to the Scottish domestic season means that newly-crowned champions, Celtic have enough time to consider their options before they start investing in the summer transfer market.
The upcoming season is going to be even more important for the Hoops, given the fact that it will provide them with the chance to write their names in the history books by winning ten Scottish Premiership titles in a row.
“It’s very important for the club, for the fans, for the team, for all of the staff. We now need to go back to work for next season, and I hope that we can win this title for 10 in-a-row.”
Moreover, a fact which will keep Neil Lennon’s team and the fans worried is Rangers’ performances in the Europa League this season. Celtic’s Glasgow rivals have fared better than the Scottish champions in the continental competition. Steven Gerrard’s team are still alive in the Europa League, while Celtic were ousted from the Round of 32 stages.
As a result, Lennon will look to invest in not just any player but on individuals who will significantly improve the quality of his team. That doesn’t in any way mean that Celtic will invest as freely as some of the other top European teams, purely because of the monetary constraints. Most of the Hoops’ deals are either going to involve minimal money or even free transfers. Loan deals are also going to be crucial.
Here, we are going to discuss three realistic summer transfer targets for the Scottish champions.
#1 Fraser Forster
The English goalkeeper has returned to his parent club Southampton after finishing a successful loan spell at Celtic Park. He featured in 28 out of Celtic’s 30 Premiership games, keeping 14 clean sheets.
The Saints are in desperate need to balance their books this summer and are looking to offload some of their players, including Forster. However, a deal for the 32-year-old isn’t going to be cheap, given the fact that the English club want a significant profit on the sale of the player whom they bought for £10 million from the Scottish club itself back in 2014.
The Bhoys are not the only team interested in Forster, with one of the clubs from the Premier League’s top four keeping him on their shopping list too.
While the Bhoys might not have the financial power to pull off a permanent deal, they are hoping to drag the negotiations on until late in the transfer window when they can strike yet another loan deal.
#2 Shon Weissman
Celtic’s man-in-form and their primary goal machine, Odsonne Edouard has been linked with a move away from the club, with Premier League looking like his most preferred destination. While Arsenal and Leicester City have been credited with showing interest in him, the name of Newcastle United is also doing the rounds. The Magpies have been linked with a £25 million move for the young Frenchman.
While Celtic aren’t keen on letting their Player of the Year leave, they know that a big-money offer will force their hands and, therefore, they have started looking at other options.
Israel striker Shon Weissman is being looked into. The Wolfsburger AC striker has just a year remaining in his current contract and might be available for a fee that would be suitable for Celtic. He has been in great goalscoring form for the Austrian Bundesliga outfit, netting 24 goals in as many league appearances.
The Scottish Premiership isn’t as physical as several other European leagues, and that might suit the 24-year-old’s style of play.
#3 Aaron Hickey
The Heart of Midlothian starlet has been turning heads with his performances for the recently-relegated Scottish Premiership outfit. In his breakthrough season, the 17-year-old has managed to notch up 22 league, six Scottish League Cup and two Scottish Cup appearances, scoring once and setting up another.
A move to Celtic Park, therefore, isn’t the only option that is going to be available in front of the youngster this summer, with big European clubs such as Chelsea, Manchester City and Bayern Munich also keeping tabs on Aaron Hickey.
Neil Lennon has failed to find a suitable replacement for Kieran Tierney, who left the club for Arsenal last summer, and the manager has reasons enough to believe that Hickey could help him solve that problem. Owing to Hearts’ relegation, the promising full-back might also be available on the cheap, which increases Celtic’s interest even further.
While the involvement of top European clubs complicates things for the Scottish champions, the lure of staying put in his own county might make things easy for Celtic.