As the growth of TV money across the continent continues to outpace the Scottish game, champions Celtic are finding it tougher than ever to attract the calibre of player required to reach and compete in the Champions League.
Nonetheless we can expect another busy window for the Bhoys with Brendan Rodgers set to make his mark on the squad, and the hierarchy in place have undoubtedly already identified potential targets, too.
With a scouting network that spans the globe, Celtic will be looking towards players on the fringes of the richest clubs all the way through to potential gems in lesser leagues. Inevitably there will also be those rumours of returning former stars ready to recapture their glory years.
Here are TEN players that Celtic will be linked with this summer…
In recent years Celtic have employed a strategy of hoovering up the best Scottish talent, with a view to developing them further within their own coaching set-up.
There’s no better evidence of that than Leigh Griffiths, who this season became just the 8th player in Celtic’s 128 year history to score 40 goals in a single season.
Celtic may return to Griffiths’ old hunting ground Hibernian and look at 20 year old striker Jason Cummings as the next rough diamond to polish. He’s scored close to 50 goals across two seasons in the Scottish Championship and is sure to find himself at a bigger club before too long.
Staying with Scottish talent, there’s no greater prospect with Scottish blood than young Ryan Gauld. The 20 year old attacking midfielder is still with Sporting Lisbon, regularly appearing for their B team in the Segunda Liga. He hasn’t yet broken through to the first team and we can foresee a potential loan deal with the promise of first team football and European experience at Celtic.
When Aiden McGeady left Celtic for Spartak Moscow in 2010 he was Scottish football’s most expensive export ever. Now 30 years old, is it time for the winger to return home and wow the Celtic Park crowds once again? Currently on loan at Sheffield Wednesday with his future at Everton uncertain, expect plenty of gossip about a return north of the border.
Andrej Kramaric scored close to 100 goals in Croatian football before a £9m move to Leicester City in 2015. The Hoops made a late loan bid for the player last summer but just missed out before the deadline. He’s spent the last few months on loan at German side Hoffenheim after failing to secure regular first team action with the Foxes. With Leicester now looking ahead to bigger things, will Celtic make another play for him?
This is another Sporting Lisbon player on Celtic’s radar. The winger was linked with a move to Celtic in January and he even told reporters he wouldn’t say no to a switch to Glasgow. It’s unlikely to be a permanent move as he is contracted to the club until 2020 and has been with Sporting since the age of nine, but he’s only made 17 appearances this season and will be looking for more regular first team action.
Brendan Rodgers signed Ilori for Liverpool from Sporting Lisbon in 2013 and with the former Anfield boss taking charge of Celtic, he may look to past players to help bolster his squad. The Hoops will be on the look out for defenders this summer and with Ilori struggling to find action under Klopp, passionate fans and European football could tempt the young centre back to Glasgow.
Fanendo Adi is one of the most prolific strikers in Major League Soccer with 32 goals in 75 appearances for Portland Timbers since 2014. With a number of European clubs tracking the Nigerian striker, Celtic will undoubtedly be a name thrown into the mix. A 6ft. 4″ number 9, he would be a formidable partner to in-form Leigh Griffiths.
The Anderlecht left back revealed that he almost signed for Celtic last August before they missed out on Champions League qualification. He certainly seems open to a move to Glasgow.
He’s quoted as saying, “I really like my club but I want to have a new challenge too and move to a club more famous like Celtic.”
With Emilio Izaguirre potentially on his way out of the club, the Congo international could provide tough competition to new sensation Kieran Tierney.
Rijeka stuck a £4m price tag on centre back Leskovic to ward off interest from Celtic in the January transfer window, but he certainly fits the profile of a potential Hoops signing. He offers plenty of experience with over 166 career appearances in Croatia and two campaigns in the Europa League group stages. Young Jozo Simunovic would also benefit from having a compatriot beside him at the back.
Reading announced this month that Robson-Kanu will be leaving the Royals at the end of his contract this June. There’s a Brendan Rodgers link here, as Robson-Kanu was given his Reading debut by Rodgers back when he was manager in 2009. Will his former manager give him an opportunity in Glasgow as the club look for more options in attack?