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Rodgers sets out his terms for Lawwell to deliver on

Brendan Rodgers has set Mark Lawwell the task of trimming the Celtic squad with quality coming in and quantity getting shipped out.

It is asking a lot of the club’s Head of First Team Scouting and Recruitment to bin the players that he awarded long term contracts to while at the same time bringing in signings of the calibre of Cameron Carter-Vickers and Jota.

Lawwell Junior took up his role on 1 July 2022 with no attempt from Manchester City to retain their website administrator.

After two very productive transfer windows driven by Ange Postecoglou and Dom McKay things have virtually fallen off a cliff with Mark showing similar judgement to his Daddy, who took over as Chairman six months after his boy got set up in what he thought was a cushy gig.

Over the last three transfer windows only Alistair Johnston has gone straight into the side with most fans agreeing that the Canadian is a slight improvement on Josip Juranovic.

Deals for Carter-Vickers and Jota were already in place with Lawwell Junior adding Alexandro Bernabei, Sead Haksabanovic and Ben Siegrist to the wage bill, none of them have started an SPFL match this season, none are included in Celtic’s Champions League squad.

In January, as well as Johnston, the Head of Recruitment brought in Yuki Kobayashi, Tomoki Iwata and Oh Hyeon-gyu, like the summer signings none of those players have started a match this season. And so it goes on.

The kindest description of the 2023 signings is a job-lot. None are improvements on Jota, Carl Starfelt or Aaron Mooy.

Rodgers can coach and develop players but not in batches of six, eight or ten. There is the occasional Liam Scales to be found but the manager has subtly sent out another request to Lawwell about what he expects from future transfer windows.

Speaking to the Daily Record, the former Leicester City boss said:

It is more quality than quantity. There will be more out than coming in. There will be players who will be here for six months and won’t have played. It is no fault of them.

The squad is obviously a lot bigger than I would want, so there will be more players who will look to go out and get game time. And, of course, hopefully over the coming windows we can look to improve the quality of the squad. Your squads are 25, which is 22 plus three goalkeepers. It is not ideal.

There were younger players who were going to come in and see how they develop. Then there was the notion – which I know for sure was the case – that there were some guys who were thinking of leaving before I came in.

Then obviously a new manager comes into the club and there can be a change of heart. They don’t leave, they stay and that is how your squad ends up where it is at now.

So it is that mixture between players coming in to develop and ones who decided to stay and not move on. But over the course of the next couple of windows we’ll get the squad down to a workable group.

Unfortunately for Rodgers all of Lawwell’s recent signings are sitting on long term contracts. As James McCarthy and others have demonstrated players won’t move on for smaller wages- even if they will get to play games.

Typical of the generous deals that Celtic have thrown around is Alexandro Bernabei has a contract running until 2027 with Yuji Kobayashi, Kwon Hyeok-kyu and Marco Tilio signed up until 2028.

Sead Haksabanovic, Yosuke Ideguchi and Liam Shaw are already out on loan, demonstrating that clubs aren’t prepared to match their current terms.

Getting six players out and bringing in two or three first team contenders is the task facing Lawwell for January, that work should be well underway.

Whether he can deliver is another issue but his Dad’s record with Vakoun Bayo, Marian Shved, Patryk Klimala, Ismaila Soro, Albian Ajeti and Vasilis Barkas does set a very low bench mark alongside expensive loan deals for Oli Burke, Diego Laxalt, Jonjo Kenny and others.

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