Colin Kazim-Richards set to be first player to leave Celtic

Colin Kazim-Richards is to have talks with Brazilian Serie A side Coritiba. Picture: SNS.

Colin Kazim-Richards is to have talks with Brazilian Serie A side Coritiba. Picture: SNS.

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Brendan Rodgers has set to work clearing away the detritus of the cluttered first-team squad he has inherited at Celtic with Colin Kazim-Richards poised to join Brazilian club Coritiba.

Turkish international striker Kazim-Richards was Ronny Deila’s final signing as Celtic manager when he joined from Feyenoord on deadline day of the most recent winter transfer window.

The 29-year-old, who signed a two-and-a-half year contract, could now become the first to depart under new boss Rodgers.

Kazim-Richards is expected in Brazil today for talks with Coritiba, who are prepared to give him an 18-month deal. The former Brighton and Sheffield United player has a Brazilian partner, Mariano Bigao, who has encouraged him to take his next career step in her homeland.

Celtic are happy to cut their losses on Kazim-Richards, who scored just twice in 13 appearances for them, and free him from his contract.

“We have conducted an interview with Colin Kazim-Richards,” confirmed Coritiba’s sporting director Valdir Borbosa. “He will be in Coritiba on Tuesday and his Brazilian wife wants him to wear the uniform here. We are working on a deal and hopefully he will have a medical on Thursday, and should sign a contract until December 2017. He is a very experienced striker.”

Coritiba narrowly avoided relegation from Brazil’s Serie A last year and have won just one of their first four fixtures in the 2016 campaign which kicked off earlier this month. Their head coach, Gilson Kleina, is hopeful Kazim-Richards can make a positive impact.

“We have been offered him,” said Kleina. “I spoke with him and also clubs where he played in Turkey, the Netherlands and Scotland. I am sure he might be a surprise in Brazilian
 football.”

Coritiba have also taken soundings from their former player, Alex de Souza, who was a team-mate of Kazim-Richards at Turkish club Fenerbahce.

“Colin was very young at the time he played with me,” said De Souza. “But I can say that he is comfortable playing on both wings.

“He had the best time playing on the wings before Zico’s management [at Fenerbahce]. But to be honest I do not have much knowledge about Colin.”

Kazim-Richards started just five games for Celtic, scoring his first goal for the club in the 2-0 Scottish Cup fifth round win over Lowland League side East Kilbride in February.

He generally failed to impress whenever he featured for Deila, with the exception of his display at Tynecastle at the end of April when he scored the opener in the 3-1 win over Hearts which effectively clinched a fifth consecutive league title for Celtic.

The departure of Kazim-Richards could swiftly be followed by several others as Rodgers assesses the strength and quality of his squad ahead of Celtic’s opening Champions League qualifier on 12 or 13 July.

Former West Ham United and England striker Carlton Cole, who has made just five appearances since signing an 18-month contract last November, is also expected to be off-loaded.

Central defender Tyler Blackett, who struggled to make a positive impact with just eight appearances for Celtic, will return to Manchester United when his season-long loan deal expires next month.

Scotland defender Charlie Mulgrew will be out of contract next month and had been expected to leave the club. But Rodgers has indicated he would like to retain the versatile 30-year-old’s services and a new deal is likely to be agreed.

The future of winger James Forrest, who turned down a new four-year contract earlier this year, remains unclear. The 24-year-old, who rarely featured in the latter stages of Deila’s tenure, is under contract at Celtic until December.

Rodgers must also determine whether defenders Emilio Izaguirre and Efe Ambrose, who both have another year left on their contracts, have any part to play in his plans. Honduran left-back Izaguirre has been linked with a move to US, while error-prone Nigerian international Ambrose is believed to have attracted interest from Fenerbahce.

Celtic still hope to tie down the services of Australian midfielder Tom Rogic, who has been linked with Arsenal, Valencia and Fiorentina. The highly-regarded 23-year-old’s current deal has just another year left to run but he has indicated a willingness to extend his stay.

Norwegian midfielder Stefan Johansen, whose contract also runs out in 12 months, remains in talks over a new deal but has expressed uncertainty over whether he will still be a Celtic player at the start of the season.

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