It’s 1 June, not that you would know it by the rain pouring done here in Glasgow. And for football fans that means that the transfer window is open once more.
For the next few months clubs will be able to buy players before the window closes (or slams shut as sports hacks usually describe it) in August. And that means teams will have to make do with the squad they then have to get them through the crucial first part of the season, before the window opens again on 1 January.
A word of warning: the transfer window is football’s silly season. Clubs will be linked with any player seen within 100 miles. Rumours will abound from taxi drivers, journalists and relatives of folk supposedly in the know. Perhaps 1 in 20, or even less, of suggested transfers will turn out to have any truth in them at all.
Now Celtic doesn’t yet have a manager, although an announcement is said to be imminent. But that hasn’t stopped transfer targets being identified and presumably players deemed surplus to requirements too.
So let’s have a look at the current Celtic Squad and see if we can predict where likely signings will fit in.
Goalkeepers: Boruc, Zaluska, Cervi.
The only movement here would come if Artur Boruc decided to move on. Zaluska has shown himself to be an able deputy and Cervi is a highly rated young keeper.
Full backs: Hinkel. Naylor, Wilson, Braafheid, Caddis, Misun.
Left back has been a problem position for so many years now. Naylor may well move down south and Braafheid will surely return to Germany at the end of his loan spell. Misun is highly rated and has been unlucky with injury. Perhaps he will come to the fore next season? We need at least one full back of first team standard and probably a second for cover.
Centre backs: McManus, Hooiveld, Loovens, Rogne, Thompson, O’Dea
A much changed area of the side, although injuries to new arrivals meant chopping and changing pretty much every game in the second half of last season. McManus could make his loan move to Middlesbrough permanent. Loovens has also been linked with a move, so reinforcements are definitely required.
Sol Campbell has been mentioned and I would love to see a player of his experience and stature brought in. Hooiveld could become a player once he gets over his injury worries. Thompson played many more games that he could have expected and generally did well, but still has a great deal to learn. And Rogne was the first name mentioned by Neil Lennon recently when asked about promising youngsters. There is a real feeling that he will become a top player.
Wide midfielders: Maloney, McGinn, McCourt, Munzio, McGeady.
Will McGeady stay? Will Maloney be fit? The answers to these two questions will shape the transfer strategy. Aiden McGeady may frustrate at times, but he has undoubted talent and is the club’s most sellable asset. It would take a very large bid to tempt the club to sell, however, but that resolve may well be tested. If Shaun Maloney can get over his many injuries he can be a key player next season. But that’s a big if.
McGinn is young and promising and will be looking to force himself into the side. Will Paddy McCourt ever be more than an impact player? If he had the fitness to go with his skills he would be a world beater. Munzio has slipped out of the first team reckoning and could go.
Central midfielders: N’Guemo, Brown, Crosas, Ki, Zhi
The biggest problem area from last season. If we are to stay with the 4-4-2 formation, as seems likely, we need a solid and dependable central midfield.
Brown is the captain and will stay. N’Guemo’s loan deal has still not been made permanent, which is a worry. Crosas and Ki have talent but haven’t really made a claim for a regular slot as yet. And Zhi has shown that he can play too. At least one big signing is required, and Joe Ledley looks like the man identified. A second addition will be needed if N’Guemo is not signed up.
Forwards: Samaras, Fortun’e, Rasmusson, Hutchison, Sheradin, McGowan.
With Keane and Kamara having ended their loan spells, there is a real void up front. Samaras has been linked with a move, and the club may well cash in on a player whose inconsistency sees him range from unplayable to rank rotten – sometimes within minutes.
Fortun’e looked good at times but doesn’t score enough goals. If he was played in a front two with a penalty box striker like Rasmusson he could shine. The other three strikers are young players who have yet to prove that they are ready for regular first team action. So it would appear that a couple of forwards will be required. Could one by the marquee signing demanded by fans? A Keane or Bellamy type? Here’s hoping.
So that leaves us looking for a couple of full backs, a centre back, two central midfielders and two forwards. Seven players to be brought in.
There have been many names mentioned already in the silly season. Ledley looks to be a serious target and an announcement may well be made soon. Sol Campbell is a possibility for centre back, Liam Lawrence and Jimmy Bullard have been linked and Scunthorpe striker Gary Hooper has also been targeted. There will be many more suggestions made once the new manager is announced.
So who will line up in the starting eleven for the European qualifiers at the start of next month?
It’s really too early to tell. But it will be a very different line up to the one that ended last season, that’s for sure. And that can only be a good thing.