Brendan Rodgers has lamented Celtic’s failure to capitalise on the strength of their position on and off the pitch this summer as they now appear set to miss out on signing John McGinn from Hibs.
McGinn was identified as a transfer target over a month ago by the Celtic manager but the Scottish champions’ board have been unwilling to meet Hibs’ valuation of around £4 million for the midfielder.
The 23-year-old Scotland international could now join Aston Villa instead after he travelled south yesterday for talks with the English Championship club.
Rodgers has avoided any overt criticism of Celtic’s recruitment policy when facing the media in recent weeks and he again stated yesterday that he “respects” the manner in which the club is run by major shareholder Dermot Desmond and chief executive Peter Lawwell.
But there was also barely disguised dissatisfaction from Rodgers who said he “agrees 150 per cent” with those who have suggested Celtic should have been able to tie up a deal for McGinn several weeks ago.
As Celtic continue their Champions League qualifying campaign with the first leg of their third round tie against AEK Athens in Glasgow tonight, Rodgers made it clear he believes he has earned the right to bring high quality additions to his squad this summer on the back of his highly successful first two seasons in charge which have both included lucrative participation in the group stage of Europe’s elite club competition.
“Listen, I always respect that there is a balance because we’re not in the market with the resources to go and spend nine, ten, eleven million pounds on every player you sign,” said Rodgers. “You can’t do that.
“But I think we’ve earned, over the few years, the possibilities to – where the squad needs the actual real genuine quality – the ability to do that. So hopefully we can.
“There are still a few key areas where I want to bring in quality and thus far we haven’t completed on it – not a lot of players, but we needed quality. That is something that we haven’t got in the building yet to add to the quality that is already here. You have to do that when you are in a strong position. I am not sure the club has been in a stronger position this summer than what they have been for quite some time.
“We need to complete deals. It is as simple as that. One is identifying the players, which we do, then it’s about getting them over the line.
“If you open the door to players to have an opportunity to have a look and see that there are other good clubs with facilities that are equal – and probably better – than what is here, then you risk the chance of them not coming back through the door. That is the gamble you take if you wait.
“Clearly Aston Villa have come in [for McGinn] and maybe found an agreement with Hibs, I assume, which is why they would let him travel. He’s taken the opportunity to go and have a look and see. What he’ll find is that it’s a very good club that’s now been taken over by owners that look like they really want to back what they’re doing now. They have a wonderful stadium and a great, great training facility.
“So John will go down there and find a very good club that’s looking to build its way back to the Premier League.
“We will see how it all evolves down south when the window shuts there on Thursday. My concern is not that side of it but rather on getting quality in. That is the business side. I run football and operate football and I want top footballers in and I want to work with them as quickly as I possibly can. There is a business side to it, I understand that but I operate in football and I want footballers in.”
Rodgers confirmed that Celtic have rejected a bid of around £10 million from Fulham for Dedryck Boyata, the Belgian international defender who has just a year remaining on his contract. The manager is determined to hold onto the player, regardless of any improved bid which may come in before Thursday’s deadline in England.
“You couldn’t move on one of your best players like that and not have a replacement to come in,” said Rodgers.
“Being so close to Thursday now, it would be very, very difficult to do that. It’s certainly not something I would be advocating. You get £10 million for Dedryck, as an example, but where do you then go and get another centre half off that? One who would help you get through this Champions League qualifying campaign and for the rest of the season.
“It has to make sense in every way and at this moment in time it doesn’t. For Dedryck, of course, he is in his last year so in six months’ time he can do a pre-contract with someone if he wants to move.
“My focus is on keeping the squad as strong as we possibly can at this moment. We are down on players. We’ve lost Stuart Armstrong and Patrick Roberts and still not replaced them. So we can’t afford to be losing any more. With Dedryck, I don’t think there will be any further movement on that.”