Celtic are putting an added emphasis on recruiting players from the EFL, according to a report from The Athletic.
The ever-increasing economic stature of the game – as well the impact of Brexit – has seen the numbers involved in transfer dealing balloon over recent years meaning that the addition of top players has become more and more difficult as time has gone by.
That has meant that clubs outside of the Premier League have had to take a more pragmatic approach to their recruitment as they target high-potential players or heavily discounted targets.
In recent months Celtic have been linked with a number of players from within the EFL such as Ben Pearson and Ben Davies from Preston, former Charlton man Alfie Doughty and most recently, Sheffield Wednesday starlet Liam Shaw.
While none of these deals have materialised, there’s certainly a trend in the way that the Bhoys are doing their business, and according to Kieran Devlin of The Athletic, it’s down to a change in transfer strategy at Parkhead.
Writing for The Athletic, Devlin said: “It appears the new restrictions are encouraging Celtic to more aggressively pursue two different transfer policies they’ve previously dabbled in.
“The first revolves around young-ish, UK-based prospects with high upside potential who are available either on a pre-contract, or for a nominal fee as they enter the final year or so of their deals. Since 2010, that’s seen them sign the likes of Gary Hooper, Joe Ledley, Adam Matthews and Kelvin Wilson.
“Then, there’s the cousin to this policy: targeting even younger players from elite English academies who are on the cusp of first-team football but don’t see that pathway at their current clubs. It’s what saw them sign the likes of Jeremie Frimpong, Jonathan Afolabi and Lee O’Connor from Manchester City, Southampton and Manchester United respectively. Their fellow 2019 arrival Luca Connell was slightly different in that he was already starting games for Bolton Wanderers in the Championship, but his profile otherwise aligns with the rest.
“Whether or not this would be entirely wise is a different story, because it’s not a recruitment strategy that has not exactly panned out well over the 18 months since it was first explicitly pursued. Frimpong is the only success story of the above quartet, with the rest either now out on loan or not making the average Celtic match-day squad. Perhaps a new coaching staff would be more inclined to adhere to this policy, if their CVs were expressly based around player development.
“Sources close to Celtic’s recruitment department suggest that both these transfer strategies will be adopted even more frequently post-Brexit. However, there are alternatives.”
This is worrying news for clubs in the EFL.
The lure of playing for a club like Celtic is there for all to see as players from the Championship and beyond are given the opportunity to win trophies and compete in the Champions League.
There’s certainly been a lot of interest from Celtic so far this season, and this incredibly interesting piece from The Athletic certainly goes a long way to explaining this.