Six goalkeepers, out of favour defenders, lengthy contracts and prohibitive wages - the issues facing Celtic in attempting to prune back their squad this summer

As their announcement to the London Stock Exchange earlier this week indicated, trailing the news that their revenue for the year ended June 30 will be ‘significantly higher than market expectations’, Celtic are clearly well placed to accelerate the ongoing enhancement of Ange Postecoglou’s first team squad.

Swiss international striker Albian Ajeti made just six starting appearances for Celtic last season. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Swiss international striker Albian Ajeti made just six starting appearances for Celtic last season. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

With the further lucrative guarantee of Champions League group stage income to come their way in the new season, the Premiership title holders can build on the position of strength their manager guided them into with his overhaul and rejuventation of the team in his first campaign at the helm.

Yet as that stock exchange statement also underlined, there is still a requirement for Celtic to balance the books when it comes to the size of their squad.

"Player registration valuations and player trading can and often do materially influence Celtic's financial performance in addition to revenue,” they said. “In this context the summer transfer window is now open and the club intends to publish its results for the year ended 30 June 2022 in mid-September 2022 following the closure of the transfer window and in line with its previously recognised timetable.”

Former Scotland international goalkeeper Scott Bain has moved further down the pecking order at Celtic following the arrival of Benjamin Siegrist at the club. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

So while Celtic maintain a proactive approach to getting the new additions to Posteocglou’s squad on board as quickly as possible, they will also be exploring their options when it comes to getting players who are surplus to requirements off the wage bill.

In every department of the first team squad, there is no shortage of pruning which could be carried out before the transfer window closes on September 1.

Goalkeepers

With the signing of Benjamin Siegrist from Dundee United this week, Celtic now have six goalkeepers on the books. Siegrist has been recruited to provide a serious challenge to Joe Hart for the number one position, pushing Scott Bain down the pecking order.

Belgian full-back Boli Bolingoli is going into the final year of his contract at Celtic. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

The former Dundee ‘keeper signed a new contract, which runs until 2024, as recently as January this year but his first team opportunities are now likely to be even more limited.

Greek international Vasilis Barkas, also under contract for another two years, has been loaned out to Utrecht for the new season, while Northern Ireland international Conor Hazard is in the middle of his loan spell with Finnish champions HJK Helsinki.

While Bain, Barkas and Hazard all appear to have scant prospect of a long-term future at Celtic, there is emerging and highly-regarded back-up for Hart and Siegrist in the shape of 19-year-old England youth international Tobi Oluwayemi who was on the bench for several European ties last season.

Defenders

Belgian full-back Boli Bolingoli and French central defender Christopher Jullien are both going into the final year of their contracts at Celtic.

Bolingoli made just two appearances under Postecoglou last season and securing a permanent exit for the 26-year-old this summer would suit both parties.

Jullien is fit again after a lengthy recovery from the serious knee injury he suffered in December 2020 but the 29-year-old is likely to continue to struggle for game time as Postecoglou sticks with his now established central defensive pairing of Cameron Carter-Vickers and Carl Starfelt.

Dutch defender Osaze Urhoghide, under contract until 2025, spent the second half of last season on loan at Belgian club Oostende and the 21-year-old may need to go elsewhere again for first team football.

Midfielders

Even with the departures of Tom Rogic and Nir Bitton at the end of last season, there is still a surplus of midfielders at Celtic.

Captain Callum McGregor, Japanese playmaker Reo Hatate, Danish under-21 international Matt O’Riley and Scotland internationals David Turnbull and James Forrest will continue to be the core components in that area, while Hatate’s compatriot Yosuke Ideguchi will look to make a greater impact than the single starting appearance he managed last season.

Among those who could be moved on this month are Ismaila Soro, the Ivory Coast international who is under contract until 2024 and has been linked with a loan spell at Partizan Belgrade, and English midfielder Liam Shaw who spent time on loan at Motherwell last season and still has another three years on his deal.

Republic of Ireland international James McCarthy is also under contract until 2025 but the 31-year-old started just six games last season and seems unlikely to improve on that ratio in the new campaign.

Forwards

The proven firepower of Giorgios Giakoumakis, Kyogo Furuhashi, Liel Abada, Jota and Daizen Maeda leaves little opportunity for other members of the exisiting squad to find a place in the attacking area of Postecoglou’s side.

Mikey Johnston, who has struggled with injuries, made just five starts last season and the 23-year-old, who has three years left on his contract, may be tempted by the prospect of a loan move to try and reignite his career.

Swiss international striker Albian Ajeti struggled to make a sustained impact last season, despite being afforded the opportunity to do so by Postecoglou in the early part of the campaign.

The 25-year-old is under contract to 2024 and finding a suitable move for the former West Ham United man could prove problematic, given his status as one of the highest earners on the Celtic wage bill. A possible return to his homeland with Basel in January is believed to have broken down due to their inability to match his current salary.

Ajeti is likely to remain very much a peripheral figure if he does stick around with teenage strikers Joey Dawson and Johnny Kenny probably now both ahead of him in the queue as Celtic look to advance the development of that duo next season.

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