Whilst lots of the talk in the wake of Brendan Rodgers taking charge at Celtic has been about what players he will bring to the club and what players he’ll get rid of, little has been said about the players who have the best chance of developing under him.
Ten players who appeared for the first team this season are aged 21 or younger with many more under 25. Rodgers is well known for coaching and managing youth. He spent years at Reading and Chelsea shaping their young players before bringing through youth in the first team at Swansea and Liverpool.
He can develop more established players too, Luis Suarez recently noting he wouldn’t be the same player he is today with out Rodgers. He didn’t meet the new Celtic boss until the age of 25.
The squad depth at the Bhoys is unparalleled in Scotland with lots of fringe players more than capable of performing to a high standard.
Let’s take a look at FIVE players who will surely benefit from his appointment…
Scott Allan’s move to Celtic last summer was a Scottish transfer saga lasting months. After winning the Scottish Championship Player of the Year award he was tipped with a move to Rangers, but Hibs wouldn’t sell to their divisional rivals.
Celtic eventually stumped up enough cash to make a switch to Glasgow happen and fans were eager to see him break into the first team.
Those first team opportunities were few and far between however. He only made three starts across the campaign. It became a running joke with Celtic fans as after every team announcement on Twitter they would bombard the official account with “Where’s Allan?” replies.
Known for his creativity, passing and attacking drives from midfield we’ll soon know if he’s good enough to make the grade at Celtic as Rodgers will likely see those attributes as key to his side.
Arriving on a free last summer after two years at Manchester United, Saidy Janko didn’t have the ideal first season at Celtic Park.
That was in no small part due to a serious knee injury that kept the young right-back out for seven months. He did manage 13 appearances in total across the campaign showing that when available he is a decent replacement for Mikael Lustig.
We know Rodgers likes an attacking full-back, both Angel Rangel and Glen Johnson used to that effect on the right hand side at Swansea and Liverpool.
With plenty of pace and the skill to go past men, Janko will undoubtedly feature more prominently this season should he keep injury free. It will give the established Lustig plenty of competition.
On the final day of the 2015/16 as the sun shone down on Celtic Park and everyone was preparing for a title party, Ryan Christie showed everyone just why he is tipped as a future Scotland international and key Celtic player.
Surging forward from midfield, he picked up on Tom Rogic’s clever ball and coolly slotted home. He was a constant thorn in Motherwell’s side, deployed on the day as a striker in an attacking front four.
With the ability to play in the pocket behind one or two strikers he could be in for a big season under a manager who has used the likes of Raheem Sterling and Gylfi Sigurdsson to great effect in that role in the past. At just 21 years old he’s at a prime age to soak up all the knowledge and wisdom Rodgers can impart.
Patrick Roberts is a good bet to become Scotland’s player of the year next season. On loan from Manchester City until summer 2017, the young winger is already ripping apart defences in the Scottish Premiership.
He’s scored 6 goals in 10 starts for the Hoops since joining in January and yet somehow manages to look like he is just scratching the surface of his potential.
Man City must be delighted Rodgers is now at the Bhoys to oversee his development over the next 12 months, the new manager knows what it takes to create Premier League ready players. For Celtic fans, it’s the impact Roberts could have in Europe under Rodgers that is cause for excitement.
We singled out Kieran Tierney as potentially the next great Celtic player in our feature article earlier this week. Brendan Rodgers’ arrival through the doors at Celtic Park is surely a huge boost to those chances.
At just 18, he’s already a full Scottish internationalist, he’s already won awards and he’s already captured the hearts of the Celtic faithful.
In his second season it’s about managing those expectations and focusing on his game as oppositions players and teams wise up to his abilities. Rodgers has seen plenty of hyped up players come and go in his squads and is in a great position to guide the young Celt through the most important year of his young life to date.