Recent reports have suggested that Celtic are nearing a £6.5m move for loan star Jota, the Portuguese starlet having dazzled as the Hoops reclaimed the Scottish Premiership title from their Old Firm rivals.
In 29 league outings the 23-year-old – who joined the club on deadline day last summer – scored ten goals and recorded a further ten assists, with only James Tavernier having registered more assists in the Scottish top-flight (13).
Such form has seen him earn praise from fans and pundits alike, with Owen Hargreaves dubbing him a “terrific player” for his impactful displays this term under Ange Postecoglou.
There has unsurprisingly been a clamour to see him snapped up from parent club Benfica on a permanent deal in the coming months, with the £4.95m-rated gem likely to be integral to the Celtic Park outfit if they are to retain their title next season and enjoy a strong run in the Champions League.
His reported fee may well appear a bargain price anyway, particularly in the modern market, although the club’s supporters will likely be stunned by the fact that he could have been signed for a much-reduced price years earlier, only for the Glasgow outfit to snub the deal.
According to former scout David Moss, the Scottish champions could have struck a deal for the Lisbon-born playmaker years prior to his eventual move, with a fee of just £200k having been mooted – less than 30 times less than what his expected asking price is set to be in the upcoming window.
The then 16-year-old had been recommended by Benfica coach Helena Costa to Moss, although he revealed that the club failed to act upon the scout report.
Reflecting on that missed opportunity, the scout stated that: “I was scouting for the Celtic academy when she [Costa]said to me: ‘David, you need to try and sign this winger before he signs a contract with Benfica.’ I went over there a few times to watch him and met him and his parents.
“For whatever reason, I just don’t think Celtic were in a position back then to go and spend £200k or whatever the fee would have been to take on a teenage player with no first-team experience.”
Although it hasn’t proven a case of one that got away, with the player eventually ending up in Scotland, it will no doubt serve as a real headscratcher to both Postecoglou and supporters that the club overlooked such a promising talent the first time around.
There is no doubt sense in not forking out a fee for player yet to taste senior action, although the club are now set to pay the price for that inaction, with the only saving grace being that the potential deal this summer won’t come at too great a cost.