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Celtic could soon repeat Ronny Deila mistake

Grab a pen, get a list of players in the Celtic reserve squad and put a tick next to those who have played senior football for the Bhoys.

As you will quickly realise, it’s a quick and simple task; not many have actually been afforded an opportunity at Parkhead.

One of the main criticisms of Neil Lennon’s tenure was that he didn’t give chances to young players. Karamoko Dembele has featured on just four occasions since making his debut as a 17-year-old while a lack of opportunities led to Cameron Harper’s exit.

Despite possessing senior minutes for Bolton, Luca Connell hasn’t been given any appearances for the Celtic first-team and is now on loan at Queen’s Park.

Another young player out on loan is Leo Hjelde. A 17-year-old Norwegian, there are plenty of comparisons to be made with a certain Kristoffer Ajer.

The duo are cut from the same cloth; they are centre-backs and they both came from Norway to Paradise at a particularly young age.

Would you sell Hjelde this summer?

No chance

No chance

Definitely

Definitely

Ajer has made a seamless transition into the senior side over the last few years and is now one of the first names on the team sheet.

Hjelde is enjoying a temporary stay at Ross County but unfortunately, he could be on his way out of the club on a permanent basis before he’s even made his Celtic debut.

That’s because Southampton are interested in signing the teenager this summer. The Saints love a Celtic player and have managed to prise away the likes of Fraser Forster and Victor Wanyama in recent years.

The main one, however, is Virgil van Dijk. He left for Southampton in 2015 for a fee of just £13m. He has since become a global icon of the sport, moving to Liverpool in a deal worth £75m in 2018.

Of course, the exponential rate at which his value has grown was because of his initial stint in the Premier League, but such is his quality that if the Hoops waited a little longer, they could have received an ever bigger fee.

Ronny Deila was the manager who Van Dijk departed under and it was clearly a mistake from a financial point of view to let him go when they did.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look as though the Bhoys have learnt their lesson. In a move that’s showing shades of the colossal Dutchman, Hjelde could be the latest in a long line of players to swap Glasgow for the south coast of England; a move that would surely upset plenty of supporters along the way. After all, they must be fed up of being a selling club.

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But there is more to Hjelde than just a Southampton connection. Like Van Dijk, he is cool and calm in possession of the ball and is assured when passing out from the back.

Ross County boss John Hughes has been glowing in his appraisals for the centre-back, telling Not The Old Firm: “Leo is going to be the next Van Dijk. Trust me on that.”

Speaking about his game in the past, Hjelde has drawn comparisons in his game to both Ajer and the Liverpool centre-half: “I like to be on the ball and try to create things too but my main priority always has to be defending,” he said.

Indeed, if they can keep him at the club this summer he could well transition into Celtic’s Ajer replacement. It would also give them a chance to bump up any potential fee they receive in the future.

That was something Celtic didn’t do with a certain Van Dijk.

AND in other news, Celtic may finally replace Tierney by signing 18 y/o who could end up “like Busquets”…

Article title: Celtic could soon repeat Ronny Deila mistake

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