Marcel Brands must seal a permanent transfer with Celtic for Jonjoe Kenny this summer, after Alan Stubbs tipped the Everton defender to join the Scottish Premiership giants while speaking with the Daily Record earlier this week.
Kenny moved to Parkhead on a half-season loan deal during the recent winter market after struggling to establish himself at Goodison Park under Carlo Ancelotti, but the Toffees product has found a home for himself in Glasgow.
Celtic had strived to sign Kenny after Jeremie Frimpong departed and have boasted a strong defensive record in his recent games, with the Hoops conceding just three goals in their last seven league fixtures.
Stubbs is not surprised to see Kenny settle in so quickly, having worked with the 23-year-old in the Toffees’ academy, and would urge Celtic to pursue a permanent deal at the end of the season.
“If you are asking me the question about whether Celtic should try to keep him, I’d say it’s a no-brainer – 100 per cent,” he said.
“It all depends on what various parties want to do. What Jonjoe wants to do, what Everton want to do. Just as importantly, what Celtic’s next manager wants to do.
“But there are a lot worse options out there than Jonjoe, that’s for sure. And it’s not just about ability with him.
“It’s what he brings to the party in terms of everything else. There was never any doubt about Jonjoe being a good player, but I can’t speak highly enough about him. Just as important as talent, Jonjoe is just a really good guy.”
Everton did not agree on including a permanent clause in the loan deal with Celtic for Kenny, but had explored selling the right-back earlier in the January window before a £10m valuation (Sunday Mirror, 24/1, p. 67, via HITC) priced Burnley out of the market.
Kenny will now have just a year remaining on his £15,000-per-week contract when he returns to Goodison Park in the summer, and Ancelotti should not stand in the defender’s way of sealing a long-term move to Parkhead should the Hoops wish to open negotiations.
While Stubbs has been impressed with the former England under-21 international’s efforts in Glasgow thus far, not every Celtic-oriented pundit or spectator has been as amazed.
“Jonjoe Kenny offered absolutely nothing on the right-hand side [against Ross County],” Kevin Graham said on the A State of Mind podcast last month. “We’ll be better with [Anthony] Ralston out there with what I’ve seen of Kenny now.
“We’ve seemed to have just thrown money at this loan deal for a player who’s not any better than Ralston at this precise moment in time.”
Ralston graduated from Celtic’s academy to make his first team debut in 2016 but the 22-year-old has only played 90 minutes across all competitions this season thanks to a sole appearance against Livingston in January prior to Kenny’s arrival.
With Everton having been open to selling Kenny in January after a bit-part role under Ancelotti, and no clear and consistent signs that he is vastly improving at Celtic, Brands will surely have to search for a suitor – be it the Hoops or someone else – at the end of the season to avoid losing him on a free.