Celtic are on the verge of embarking on a completely new era at Parkhead.
From the summer, there will be no Neil Lennon, who is already long gone. There will be no Nick Hammond; he’s out too. There will be no Peter Lawwell; he’s just grabbing his coat before heading for the door.
On April 16, incoming CEO Dominic McKay will begin his new role three months earlier than expected, whilst it’s becoming increasingly likely that the Hoops’ next manager will be Eddie Howe. According to The Scottish Sun, the 43-year-old former Bournemouth boss has verbally agreed to take the helm, with the two parties continuing to negotiate a deal.
If – and likely when – he arrives at Celtic Park, he will quickly be met by the sheer volume of the task at hand. In addition to those aforementioned names, legendary midfielder Scott Brown has called time on his Bhoys career after nearly 14 years at the club.
Similarly, there will be plenty of decisions to make on Brown’s current team-mates. To begin with, there are several loanees who should return to their parent club and that instantly creates a void to fill, not to mention other problems bubbling below the surface.
Celtic are in serious danger of letting one of their most promising youngsters leave in the summer, as Karamoko Dembele could be set to quit as well.
Considering that the diminutive 5 foot 5 winger made headlines across Europe for making his under-20s debut aged just 13, it’s a surprise that he hasn’t managed to break into the senior setup now that he’s 18, but that has largely come down to Lennon.
Despite the former Hoops manager lauding him as a “real talent” and claiming that he “gets the crowd off their feet with his football intelligence,” Dembele has only made five first team appearances, with just one of those coming in 2021.
This is a trend which could be bucked by Howe, a manager with a proven track record over young stars and their progression. If he can come in and keep hold of Dembele, then it could prove beneficial in more ways than one.
As mentioned above, one of those on-loan players is Mohamed Elyounoussi, who is likely to return to Southampton. That would leave the Bhoys with only two natural options on the wing, one of which is the perenially injured Mikey Johnston; the other is James Forrest, who has missed large parts of the campaign through injury as well.
Throw in Odsonne Edouard’s dubious future in Glasgow and there’s certainly a space for Dembele to fill come next term. His involvement could, in turn, save the club millions in the transfer market.
Dembele is certainly worth a go if Ruud Gullit’s praise is anything to go by. “Scotland don’t have many great players at the moment – but they do have a new 13-year-old, who looks pretty special,” the Dutchman told the Evening Standard in 2016, before adding: “I saw Dembele playing on YouTube. What a player. He is exceptionally good – and left-footed as well.”
Howe and McKay can make their respective tasks considerably easier by unleashing the Hoops prodigy next season. They must tie him down to a long-term contract as soon as they are in through the door.
AND in other news, Celtic surely on verge of landmark appointment amid McKay update…