This summer could well see a mass exodus at Celtic. We’ve already seen Neil Lennon depart Parkhead while Peter Lawwell, the club’s CEO, is set to retire in a few months time.
Scott Brown has been widely tipped to see out of contract, but he’s not the only member of the playing staff who could walk out. In fact, The Athletic are predicting as many as 12 players to leave Paradise this summer.
One of those is Karamoko Dembele. The teenager has found first team opportunities hard to come by this season and is set to leave on a free transfer.
He could be joined in packing his bags by Armstrong Oko-Flex. The forward arrived from Arsenal in 2018, inspired by the work Brendan Rodgers had done with Raheem Sterling at Liverpool.
The youngster thought that Rodgers could do a similar job with his game but it simply hasn’t worked out for him. Oko-Flex wanted to earn his Celtic debut by the time he was 17, but he had to wait another two years until he was given his bow.
Indeed, that came about as a result of coincidence. With 13 players self-isolating, it meant that Lennon had to pick a number of the club’s reserve players in the matchday squad.
Oko-Flex earned two substitute appearances against Hibernian and Livingston but didn’t provide much for his troubles, making just seven touches per game.
It was a very brief glimpse, but not enough to make an impact. It has been a disappointing few years for the 19-year-old and he now looks set to walk out of the club.
Like Dembele, the Irishman is out of contract in the summer. It’s a harsh story for someone Rodgers called “very talented” back in 2018. He was seemingly promised an opportunity to break into the senior set-up but under Lennon, that simply didn’t happen.
Watching him walk out having made such minimal impact will be disappointing. However, they could hand him first team opportunities in the remaining weeks of the season. After surrendering the league title to Rangers, they have nothing to play for besides pride.
Blooding some of their young talent, therefore, would certainly not be a bad idea from John Kennedy. He was the man to nurture Kieran Tierney and, if any Bhoys coach knows how to develop up-and-coming players, it’s probably him.
Kennedy has already mixed up his selections since being given the Celtic job on an interim basis, choosing Patryk Klimala up top against Aberdeen. He missed a sitter, however, and made just eight passes in the entire game. With that in mind, he clearly isn’t good enough to lead the line for Celtic.
Adam Montgomery has since been chosen on the bench but he must now be joined by Oko-Flex.
Having played for Arsenal at youth level and then been signed by Celtic, there is clearly a talented player in there. Will Kennedy be the first manager to really harness his powers? Time will tell.