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SFA announce transfer of Celtic midfielder to Aston Villa

Aidan Borland’s transfer from Celtic to Aston Villa has been confirmed in an announcement from the SFA with the announcement of the Scotland u-17 squad.

Brian McLaughlin’s side face two friendlies against Switzerland on August 15 and 17 with Borland listed as an Aston Villa player.

The midfielder turned 16 at the end of April, duly signed off at Celtic with a Development Fee due from Villa based on the number of years that he as been part of the Celtic Academy.

Over the last few seasons the Celtic u-16 squad has been very closely scouted with Liam Morrison and Barry Hepburn joining Bayern Munich while Ben Doak is the pick of the players that have moved south to join EPL clubs with integrated leagues and loan systems to develop players.

At Celtic the flow of players from the Academy to the first team virtually ended with Kieran Tierney stepping up in 2015 after catching the eye of Ronny Deila.

Mikey Johnston and Stephen Welsh have both played more than 50 matches but neither has enjoyed a sustained run in the side and look to have their work cut out at the moment to make the substitute bench for Brendan Rodgers.

Ever since the demise of the Reserve League in 2008 Celtic have been fighting a losing battle to bring through their own young players.

Shaun Maloney, Craig Beattie, Aiden McGeady, Stephen McManus and Darren O’Dea were the last generation of players to benefit from that pathway with experiments since made with u-19, Development Leagues and u-21s without any form of continuity  or end plan.

Currently Celtic have their B team playing in the Lowland League which is of very limited benefit. At 16 playing against older opponents is a worthwhile step up but a second or third season playing in the joint fifth tier of Scottish football on artificial pitches is highly unlikely to develop first team ready players.

Last night a street-wise East Kilbride beat Celtic 3-1 in the SPFL Challenge Cup with Bosun Lawal, Daniel Kelly, Bruno Davidson and Rocco Vata in the starting XI. At 17 it is fairly new to Kelly but the other three have already played two full seasons against the same opponents.

So far in the Lowland League this season Celtic have lost to Cumbernauld Colts, beaten Caledonian Braves and drawn with Cowdenbeath- hardly inspiring the notion that a batch of young talent is bursting through.

Borland, Doak and others can play in u-19 and u-23 league football at Liverpool, Villa and elsewhere. If they catch the eye of Jurgen Klopp great, if not there are plenty of full time, lower league clubs playing on grass to develop their careers at.

The Borland story is increasingly familiar. Finance will be an attraction but the options at Celtic beyond Academy level are bleak although there is some hope with the club trying to set up a partnership with Admira Wacker in Austria although with the Second Division season underway there has been no sign of announcements for Tobi Oluwayemi or Matthew Anderson signing on loan.

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