Ange Postecoglou warns of incoming offers and reveals why managing Celtic is akin to Jenga
The Celtic transfer model is built on acquiring players with potential and selling them for profit - Josip Juranovic the most recent example with a £10million move to Union Berlin in January, while the likes of Kristoffer Ajer, Jeremie Frimpong, Odsonne Edouard and Moussa Dembele have all raked in significantly larger fees than was spent in acquiring their services in recent times.
The exploits of current Celtic stars such as Kyogo Furuhashi, Jota, Reo Hatate and Matt O'Riley could see them go the same way, while Liel Abada and Carl Starflet have also been linked with moves to England. So when put to him that the task of enhancing the Celtic squad with new signings while at the same time facing the prospect of losing his best players was akin to a game of Jenga, the former Australia boss was in firm agreement.
“It’s not a precise science," Postecoglou said. "I was trying to be predictive with the January window. We kind of knew Jura[novic] and [Giorgos] Giakoumakis would go. We are losing two very good players who had contributed greatly to our success. We thought Oh [Hyeon-gyu] and Alistair [Johnston] both already looked like good players, they are younger than the guys who left, so potentially could have a higher ceiling if we got it right. That’s always the challenge.
“This is the probably first window where we’ll really get tested on some of our key players by other clubs. Our planning is in place, so if that happens, it’s like the Jenga puzzle, before it all collapses we’ll hopefully already have a piece in place to ensure you can take one out and still build strong. I like that Jenga analogy!"
With the Premiership title and League Cup already secured, victory over Inverness in the Scottish Cup final at Hampden this Saturday will earn Postecoglou a treble in only his second season in charge of Celtic. The next step is to turn plaudits into points in the Champions League after collecting only two from a possible 18 in his maiden campaign, but Postecoglou insists that building for Europe will not be his sole focus this summer transfer window.
“No, because that would be to dismiss domestic football. We just have to be stronger than we were last year,” he stressed. “I’m sitting here just now and, hand on heart and without the bias of me being the manager, I think we’re a better side than we were 12 months ago. We needed to be to achieve what we have so far. That’s got to be the goal next year, to be sitting here saying we are a better team. That doesn’t mean winning the league by 30 points, it may still be a narrow margin, but your football, the way you’re playing, the development of your players has gone to another level. Whether it’s transfers this window, we just want to build a better, stronger squad and be a better team than we were last year. Some of it will be natural because some of the players are still developing. In terms of transfers and what we want to try and do, that’s our focus.”
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