Celtic’s transfer strategy over the years has been quite clear. They have tried to sign the best possible players within their budget with the ultimate aim of moving them on for big transfer profits in the future if that is possible.
We saw something similar happen with Odsonne Edouard and Kristoffer Ajer in the recently concluded summer transfer window. But that is not the only instance. It has been happening for years.
John Park, former Celtic Head of Football Development, has opened up on the method which the club has used over the years to great effect. When you take a look at the top 11 signings that he had a hand in during his time at Parkhead, they handed the Hoops an incredible £97.9 million in transfer profits in total.
“We were ahead of the game. We had our own data analysis department back then, with Craig Dunbar and Paul McLeish. They ascertained the facts from the data to compare players and value them against what we’d got in the club at the present. When you look at the stats and leverage them against the scouting reports, you come to the conclusion that they can be the right ones for the club.”
And this method was not just about finding the next big things. It was also about finding players who could do a job for the club:
“It’s a lowball game, a Moneyball game but it’s down to the staff behind the scenes to spot these guys approaching the end of their contracts, and knowing they’re good enough for Celtic, or at least being confident of it. You can talk about the Virgils (van Dijk), Moussas, but those bread and butter players who have come in for little or nothing have done every bit as much for Celtic as the big names.”
And it did produce some impressive results over the years. Speaking further on how it succeeded, Park said:
“There was one year in the Champions League — we qualified for the last 16 when Man City and Chelsea didn’t (in 2012-13). It was in a newspaper about how Celtic spent a relative pittance, and they were questioning, ‘How can this happen?’ Well, the answer is astute scouting observations and strong data assessment, a good team of people around about you, and then good coaching. It is an entirely possible outcome.”
Celtic have struggled in recent times both on and off the pitch
It is safe to say that Celtic have faced quite a few struggles in recent times not just on the pitch but off it as well.
When you take a look at the players who Celtic have signed over the past few transfer windows, the only one who has left on a significant transfer profit is Jeremie Frimpong. And for every good move, there have been quite a few which had not worked out at all.
The fact of the matter is that Celtic will have to continue to stick to this method if they are to have a chance of competing with clubs from around Europe. As a result, they must be focused on improving their scouting network and recruitment as much as they can, if they are to succeed as a club moving forward.