Having won four successive league titles in his time at Celtic, it’s fair to say Dedryck Boyata enjoyed a rather fruitful time at Parkhead.
The Belgium international would end up playing 135 times for the club, and even chipped in with an impressive 15 goals and nine assists as he consolidated a place at the back under former boss Brendan Rodgers.
But amid speculation linking him with a move away, it was clear that there were just a little bit of friction.
Indeed, Rodgers didn’t seem to be all impressed with some of the work going on behind-the-scenes, revealing back in August 2018: “Dedryck’s agent turned up yesterday at the training ground, which is closed the day before the game.
“He wanted to speak to me at 10 o’clock. I have a meeting with players at 10.30 and I said I couldn’t meet him before but I would after I had done my work. Obviously when I came back after training he wasn’t there. That’s where it is at. But he is a player we don’t want to lose.”
In the end, Boyata would leave Celtic on a free transfer back in the summer of 2019, arriving at Bundesliga outfit Hertha BSC.
After joining the German side on a four-year deal, the centre-back said: “I am pleased that the deal has worked out. It is an ambitious club and we have similar goals. Also, I was very impressed with Michael Preetz’ efforts to bring me here.
“I am looking forward to the new season and want to achieve something with the club.”
Well, whatever Boyata may have envisaged would happen at Hertha, certainly hasn’t done so.
The Bundesliga side are currently staring at the very real prospect of relegation to the second-tier of German football, lying just one point and one place above the play-off spot – to make matters worse, they remain just two points ahead of Arminia, who occupy the last automatic relegation spot.
Boyata, who has been handed the captain’s armband at the Olympiastadion, was sent off earlier this season against Hoffenheim following a challenge that was upgraded to a red card after a VAR check.
The Belgian has been part of a shocking defence that has conceded a whopping 66 goals in just 30 Bundesliga games this season, the second-worst record in the entire division, with only bottom side Greuther Furth having let in more (72).
When you think of how Celtic have found a real leader in defence in Cameron Carter-Vickers, and how the side have performed superbly in stopping the opposition – they have the meanest back-line in the Scottish Premiership with just 19 goals conceded (eight fewer than second-best Rangers) – the Hoops must feel they have landed a real upgrade on Boyata.
Slammed as being “stupid” for the way he picked up a red card against St Johnstone back in September 2018, it’s clear Boyata hasn’t really found the grass is greener elsewhere, and instead looks set for a really big step down unless he can help turn things around at Hertha.