Who is Celtic’s next big export going to be? by Josh McCafferty
At least in recent years, Celtic have been known as great exporters of young talent. The likes of Moussa Dembele, Odsonne Edouard and Jeremie Frimpong have all went on to play, and star in, some of the top five leagues in Europe after dazzling in green and white.
The club’s neoteric transfer policy has clearly been to bring in promising young players for small sums of money and sell them on for some palatial profit. This blueprint can still be seen today despite a huge overhaul in squad and a change in manager in the past year.
Under Ange Postecoglou, Celtic have played some brilliantly flowing attacking football. The Hoops are currently first in the league with twelve games to go and still in both Europe and the Scottish Cup. Whilst achieving these feats, several players have caught the eye and many of them will, despairingly for Celtic fans, already be on the radar of numerous big clubs, one would think.
In this article, I’ll profiling a few of the upcoming stars from the current Celtic team who may be in line for a big move, sooner rather than later.
If you haven’t already heard the name Liel Abada, remember it because it will be beginning to get mentioned a lot more often after his exploits so far in his time at Celtic.
Abada made 70 appearances for his former team, Israeli top tier outfit Maccabi Petach Tikva, scoring 20 goals and assisting 10. These impressive numbers prompted Celtic to act and the right winger joined the club in the summer of 2021 for a £3.6 million fee, according to Transfermarkt. Abada penned a five year deal at Parkhead, making him all the more valuable.
A right winger, Abada is extremely quick and direct. He has taken up the wide-right role in Ange Postecoglou’s 4-3-3 system, surpassing club legend, James Forrest, in the pecking order.
In his 41 Celtic appearances, Abada has racked up a staggering 14 goals and 11 assists. The Israeli is top of the Celtic charts for combined goals and assists and is only twenty years old, we must remember.
Abada possesses electric pace and one of his key traits is to arrive late, on the blind side of defenders, at the back post, to convert. His skill set could certainly be of use to some top teams in a league such as the Bundesliga where he could exploit the high lines which are usually deployed there.
Despite the fact Abada has only played for Celtic for seven months, he has still been able to dispose his vast potential to all. To be putting up such numbers as he is for a twenty year old is frankly phenomenal. Not only this, his play style along with the amount of experience he has for his age is surely very attractive to several teams.
However, if Abada is to depart Celtic in the forthcoming transfer window it would have to be for a significant fee. As mentioned, the Israeli already has five senior caps to his name and has also racked up 25 combined goals and assists in his short time at Celtic so far. It is no surprise Abada has gained the nickname ’Starbhoy’ among some of the Celtic support.
Although he’s not signed for Celtic permanently (yet), Jota is still a player who is making waves at Parkhead.
The Portuguese has somewhat revitalised his career after joining Celtic on a one-year loan from Benfica.
Jota came through the Portuguese giants’ academy and went on to make 34 appearances for the first team. However, after an unsuccessful loan spell at Real Valladolid and failure to tie down a place in the Benfica starting eleven, a fresh start would await Jota with Ange Postecoglou’s rebuilt Celtic team in Scotland.
As a player, the twenty two year old is a silky winger who brings great panache to the side however he can also match this skill with end product. This is proved with his 10 goals and 8 assists in 27 Celtic appearances.
Jota’s flair and poise brings fans off their seats and the spirit of the Celtic team is definitely raised when he is on the park. Take the Bhoys’ Scottish Cup last sixteen tie with Raith Rovers, for example. Celtic were a goal to the good at half time despite a relatively monotonous performance and when Mikey Johnston had to be withdrawn on the fifty fifth minute through injury, Jota limbered up from the dugout. The Portuguese came on and made a huge difference to the game, contributing to two of Celtic’s three goals that were scored when he was on the pitch. His sublime pass across goal found Giorgos Giakoumakis who converted and Jota also won the penalty which led to Celtic’s fourth goal of the game.
Clearly, the left winger is a huge difference maker in the Celtic side and his contributions in his time at the club so far have been decidedly crucial.
We mentioned how Jota is only on loan at Celtic however the club do have an option to buy in the deal. This is estimated to be at around £6.5 million and there have been widespread reports of Celtic wanting to take this up. Should they do so, I wouldn’t put it past the club to immediately sell Jota for a significant profit, similar to what Belgian side Oostende done with Jack Hendry, a situation Celtic fans will be familiar with. However, if the club decide to keep hold of Jota for a year or two after they permanently buy him, it will give him the opportunity to continue to strut his stuff and raise his stock.
Although he doesn’t fit the traditional mould of a young, promising talent who’s succeeding at Celtic, Josip Juranovic is still a player who could doubtlessly depart the club for big money.
Similarly to Jota and Abada, Juranovic joined Celtic in the summer of 2021 as part of the Hoops’ significant rebuild.
A right back by trade, Juranovic has also operated in several positions in his time at Celtic including left back and right wing, disposing great worth in his versatility.
Juranovic is an established Croatian International who has 15 caps for his country. He even played at Hampden in the most recent Euros against Scotland.
Furthermore, Celtic signed Juranovic for a near snip. The Croatian moved to Glasgow for a £2.7 million fee as of Transfermarkt, signing a five year deal meaning any club that wants to take Juranovic away from Celtic will have to cough up a fairly significant amount. This ideal was backed up by the ever-reliable Fabrizio Romano who on his podcast, stated:
“Juranovic is a very interesting name to keep an eye on. Leicester, but not only Leicester, have been looking at the right back playing for Celtic. His price will be around 10, 12, 15 million pounds.
“This boy is doing great with Celtic, he’s performing a top level; one of the most interesting right backs in the market and I have the feeling that in the summer he has chances to move.
“I’m told that many clubs are exploring this opportunity. Keep an eye on Juranovic.”
It appears there is already noteworthy interest in Josip Juranovic and it will come as no surprise to Celtic supporters. The full back has become a real fan-favourite in his time in Glasgow so far, combining his silky style of play with being stout defensively. Going forward, Juranovic has scored 4 goals and registered 1 assist in his 27 Celtic appearances however all of his goals have come from the spot with the Croatian establishing himself as the club’s foremost penalty taker. His ‘panenka’ in the BayArena against Leverkusen was particularly breathtaking.
At the age of twenty six and with just over four years left on his contract, you would think Josip Juranovic is the least likely of the players in this article to depart Celtic. He appears to settled at the club and a prominent member of the first team squad however the aforementioned interest in the Croatian International cannot be denied.
Clearly, there are numerous players in the current Celtic team who have intriguing futures. Ange Postecoglou is certainly developing some gems and it will be gripping to see what the summer transfer window has in store for his side.