While Celtic’s academy does not produce quite as many stars as it used to, the Parkhead side’s youth setup has nevertheless continued to churn out a number of highly impressive talents in recent years – with Kieran Tierney, Aaron Hickey, Callum McGregor and Jack Hendry being some of the Bhoys’ more notable recent graduates.
However, aside from the £24.3m sale of Tierney, the Hoops have not always profited from their more talented youngsters as often as many would like, with two of the previously mentioned graduates, Aaron Hickey and Jack Hendry, having both left the club for nominal fees.
Another player who would certainly fall into this category is central midfielder Liam Henderson, who, since his £108k move to SSC Bari back in 2018, has proven that Celtic once again undervalued a very exciting talent.
Indeed, during his time with Bari, the 25-year-old made 19 Serie B appearances, scoring two goals, registering two assists and helping his side reach the play-offs in the league.
These performances led to Hellas Verona snapping the midfielder up the following summer, where the former Scotland U21 international would make 30 appearances in all competitions in his first season at Stadio Marcantonio Bentegodi, scoring three goals and providing three assists along the way – as well as helping his side to secure promotion via the Serie B play-offs.
Henderson was once again on the move in the following campaign, as, after featuring just four times in Serie A for Hellas in the first half of the season, the club decided to loan the 25-year-old out to Serie B side Empoli, where he would score one goal and register four assists over 16 league fixtures.
This led to Lecce splashing £450k on the midfielder in the summer of 2020, where the Scot enjoyed what could easily be viewed as his breakthrough season.
Indeed, over his 40 Serie B appearances last term, Henderson scored three goals, provided seven assists and created eight big chances for his teammates, as well as taking an average of 1.2 shots and making 1.4 key passes per game.
These returns saw the player who Lecce president Saverio Sticchi Damiani dubbed as “exemplary” earn a seasonal SofaScore match rating of 6.95, ranking him as his side’s joint 10th-best performer in the second tier of Italian football.
However, once again, the 25-year-old was on the move this summer, linking up with a former side once more in the shape of Serie A side Empoli, where, over his eight top-flight appearances so far this season, Henderson has averaged a highly impressive SofaScsore match rating of 6.89.
And, as a reflection of his ever-improving displays, the player Celtic sold for £108k three and a half years ago is now worth £1.98m – leaving the Parkhead side not only roughly £1.9m out of pocket but also without an extremely talented midfielder, and proving that the club’s former CEO Peter Lawwell endured something of a nightmare when selling the youngster.