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Lawwell’s worrying transfer message to Brendan Rodgers

Celtic are reported to be showing interest in signing Kanji Okunuki from Numenberg.

The attacking midfielder or second striker seems to be impressing in Bundesliga 2 but it is quite a stretch to see how he goes from that level to improving on the current Celtic options and being comfortable at Champions League level.

It is very lazy and easy to link Celtic with any Japanese player but on the evidence so far Okunuki looks to be more Yuki Kobayashi or Yosuke Ideguchi than Reo Hatate or Kyogo Furuhashi. Celtic are reported to be scouting heavily in Bundesliga 2.

The obsession with project signings under Mark Lawwell has left Brendan Rodgers with an incredibly bloated squad with midfield high on quantity and light on quality as demonstrated by Reo Hatate’s injury.

David Turnbull is a very capable and reliable fourth choice midfielder but beyond that there is much of a muchness in Odin Thiago Holm, Tomoki Iwata and Paolo Bernardo with Kwon Hyeok Kyu even further in the distance for game time never mind development.

Lawwell’s latest project was linked with Hearts in the summer before opting for Nurenberg. On June 26 the Edinburgh Evening News reported:

Two signing targets are being pursued by Hearts in the shape of Japanese winger Kanji Okunuki and Australian forward Sammy Silvera. The Edinburgh club made enquiries about both players but the Evening News has learned that interest is stronger in Silvera, the Central Coast Mariners talisman.


News #Okunuki : according to Sky information #Celtic Glasgow is interested in Kanji Okunuki from 1. FC #Nürnberg . The Scots have scouted the Japanese intensively in recent weeks. But there is no concrete offer yet.

During the summer Rodgers nodded through a variety of projects that had been worked on, Luis Palma was signed at the end of August and is the only arrival to have made a positive impact although Yang Hyun Jun has shown some promise.

Had Jota remained at Celtic and Liel Abada stayed fit neither Palma or Yang would have been replacing either winger in the Starting XI.

The squad now has at least 10 players too many with Sead Haksabanovic, Ideguchi and Liam Shaw out on loan while Kobayashi, Alexandro Bernabei, Marco Tilio, James McCarthy, Ben Siegrist and Gus Lagerbielke turn up for training with next to no chance of playing.

Addressing that issue at the end of October the Herald reported Rodgers saying:

It is more quality than quantity, for me. I think there will be more out than coming in. I think there will be players who will be here for six months and won’t have played.

Like I’ve said before, it is no fault of them. The squad is obviously a lot bigger than I would want. So, I think 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.

Listen, we have enough – what I would say – development players. I think it is clear. And I love that, it is what I have done all my life is work with those players. But you certainly need ones that can come in [and make an immediate impact].

We already have a number of those development players, so it is genuine quality we hope we can bring in across the coming windows.

Your squads are 25, which is 22 plus three goalkeepers. It is not ideal. I think there were younger players that 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 that were thinking of leaving before I came in. Then obviously a new manager comes in 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.

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

In recent years Celtic have announced signings in advance of the January transfer window opening. Business this season will be telling, if Okunuki is part of the solution it looks like a worrying time for supporters.

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