It is always a gamble when Celtic decide to bring in a new player as there are so many factors at play, whether that be how they adapt to the style of play, how they get on with their teammates, or how they respond to the manager.
This is heightened when a young player comes through the door as all of those issues are questioned whilst they are still in the early development stages of their career. They are being signed on their potential rather than their ability at the time and that can make expectations hard to handle.
One player on whom Celtic took a gamble was right-back Jeremie Frimpong, signing him from Manchester City’s academy for £342,000 in the summer of 2019 when he was 18 years old. He had not played a single senior match in his career and the Hoops decided to splash out almost half a million pounds on his services, but that fee quickly started looking like a bargain for the Scottish giants.
Frimpong made 21 senior appearances for Celtic in the 2019/20 campaign, scoring twice and setting up three goals as he showed off his attacking quality from full-back. This led to his former Hoops manager Neil Lennon lauding the youngster as an ‘outstanding talent’ and admitting that he couldn’t hold him back.
He said: “I’m just delighted what he brings to the game, defensively or offensively and there is as an end product as well. He’s an outstanding talent who looks after himself. Watching him makes me tired, the amount of runs he makes, he wears people down.
“He is an amazing player. Amazing. With younger players, you want to look after them but you can’t hold talent back.”
Frimpong then pushed on further in the 2020/21 season as he started 19 games in the Premiership campaign, with 30 appearances in all competitions, averaging a solid SofaScore rating of 6.81. He helped Celtic to keep eight clean sheets in those games, whilst contributing offensively with one goal and two assists.
This led to Bayer Leverkusen swooping for him in the January transfer window at the start of this year. At the time of the move, Transfermarkt valued him at £3.6m based on his form for Celtic over the previous two seasons.
He spent his first few months adjusting to life in the Bundesliga, starting four of his first 10 league appearances for Leverkusen. This season, he is thriving in Germany with an average SofaScore rating of 7.13 in seven Bundesliga starts, providing three assists for his team.
At the time of writing, Transfermarkt value him at a whopping £13.5m. Not only is this more than the £9.9m Celtic reportedly received for his services, but it is also a 275% increase on the £3.6m at which he was valued upon his exit from Parkhead.
This shows that Celtic endured a disaster by selling him when they did. Had they been able to keep hold of him for another six months, or longer, they could then have sold him for a larger fee based on his progress in the last 10 months. The Hoops could have raked in a bigger transfer fee, which they could then have invested into making the team stronger across the park.
Whilst they will be proud of their work in bringing him to the club for a minimal fee before selling him on for profit, his soaring market value suggests that it was a mistake to cash in when they did as they have potentially missed out on a sizeable payday.