Why this is Celtic's best transfer window since 2002 as they splash out highest amount
A case can be made for stating that this transfer window has the potential to be Celtic’s most productive since such periods were introduced in 2002.
Chief executive Peter Lawwell’s mantra is that the club’s objective is to emerge from every window stronger than they entered it. Even his most vociferous critics – Charlie Nicholas apart, it seems – would struggle to argue that this has not just been achieved.
There are two sides to every transfer-window equation. For the first time in three years Celtic haven’t just signed a clutch of pedigree performers, courtesy of deals for Shane Duffy, Albian Ajeti, Vasilis Barkas, Mohamed Elyounoussi, Diego Laxalt and Davd Turnbull. Crucially, they have also held on to every key member of their squad.
Defying the odds
It was predicted that they would be unable to rebuff approaches for the patently unsettled Odsonne Edouard, Kristoffer Ajer and Olivier Ntcham. Instead, though, they held firm.
Moreover, the club’s net spend – permanent deals for Ajeti, Barkas and Turnbull coming in at around the £13m mark – is Celtic’s highest such outlay in any window. With finances hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, the many board-bashers among the keyboard warriors surely have to recognise their club have shown genuine intent when it comes to tooling up for the assault on the ultimate quarry of a record 10th consecutive title.
The deadline-day capture of left wing-back Laxalt on a season-long loan from AC Milan brings to five the number of players signed on for this season that immediately can be expected to vie for first pick-status. For a club that has hoovered up an unprecedented 11 straight domestic honours, and last season topped a European group stage for the first time, this level of upgrading is no mean feat.
Hammond steps up
It represents impressive scouring from head of recruitment Nick Hammond. A methodical approach to upholstering in areas that require stitchwork seems detectable. As was true with his first summer, with the arrivals of Christopher Jullien, Jeremie Frimpong, Hatem Abd Elhamed, and Elyounoussi addressing problem positions.
Lennon has effectively given himself the personnel to strengthen the entire spine of his team. Barkas may be no Fraser Forster, and the £4.5million buy from AEK Athens has admitted assimilation has not been easy, but there has been a growing assurance from the Greek international in the past couple of weeks.
The same is true of Republic of Ireland captain Duffy. The on-loan Brighton centre-back brings a presence to the club’s backline that was lacking. It can’t be a mere co-incidence that the current run of four straight clean-sheets is Celtic’s longest such sequence in a year-and-a-half.
Central midfielder Turnbull may find his game time limited in this campaign. Yet, there is no dispute that the 20-year-old playmaker is the most exciting Scottish talent produced in recent times.
Ajeti, meanwhile, has demonstrated precisely the predatory instincts that persuaded Celtic to lavish £4.5m on him in currently boasting a league strike rate of a goal every 47.4 minutes with five in six Premiership outings.
The proof of the pudding, as ever, will be in the eating, but Celtic certainly appear to have the ingredients to continue gobbling up the major honours.