How Celtic plan to bridge Champions League gap as Ange Postecoglou sets out his transfer blueprint

Regardless of just how dispiriting Celtic’s Champions League experience was across the last two months, Ange Postecoglou remains bullishly confident that the chasm between the Scottish Premiership and Europe’s premier tournament is a bridge that can be crossed. Problem is, it will take money.

Celtic’s fiscal reality is such that competing in real terms is not a possibility but for Postecoglou the player trading model is one where he feels the Parkhead side can widen their net in terms of the levels they are prepared to go to.

“I’m obsessed with success,” said the Greek-Australian. “I’ve had success at every club I’ve been at because I haven’t limited what that looks like. I see no reason why this club can’t compete in the Champions League regularly. There’s obviously a massive gap to the big clubs but there’s nothing to suggest we can’t be a strong club at that level. There’s nothing written anywhere that says, ‘this is your limit’.”

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While Celtic will never be able to compete in a financial sense with any of Europe’s top five leagues where eyewatering amounts change hands, Postecoglou is confident that by attracting players with more experience the Parkhead side can move themselves up the ladder. And behind his thinking is the fact that he has largely spent wisely in the time he has been in position at Celtic with three windows all bringing in impactful signings.

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou spoke at the club's Annual General Meeting at Celtic Park. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

“What I hope I have proven over the last 12 to 18 months that is for the most part all the players we have brought in irrespective of the levels, they have made an impact,” he said. “There is a trust from the club that whatever the spend is going to be, provided we go through a similar process that if we get it right then we should be getting some really good players as we move along that scale.

“I think the core is that we will always look at a certain demographic and what I mean by that is that we will always go for the younger scale because that is part of the model that we need to create. But there are younger players who have had Champions League experience.

“You look at that Shakhtar team and the likes of [Mykhaylo] Mudryk they are young but they have already had two or three years of Champions League experience because of their football club. That is obviously beyond the financial levels we are at but there could be clubs like that where we could look at younger players who have Champions League experience.”

Previous Celtic managers grew openly frustrated when the club’s financial ceiling became apparent, often with salary the sticking point rather than transfer fees for players as transfers have broken down.

“I haven’t had any frustration or sense there wasn’t any alignment,” said the Celtic manager. “I’ve had full support along the way. I’ll keep doing it until someone taps me on the shoulder and says, ‘that’s enough.’ If you compare us to similar sized clubs in Europe and look at their models, the ones who make an impact at Champions League level – and by impact I don’t mean winning it but consistently being there and potentially making the knockout stages – there are a couple of constants in there.

“One is they’re always in the Champions League. That’s obviously a vital part of it. But they are also very aggressive with their trading. That’s how you make those significant financial leaps that need to be made. Within that context, you have to be agile and take opportunities when they come along.”

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