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Were Celtic’s top 10 transfer deals value for money?

Celtic’s transfer activities during the Mark Lawwell era will go down as one of the biggest mysteries and missed opportunities in the club’s history.

From inheriting very little Ange Postecoglou’s brilliant recruitment over two windows created the perfect platform to progress, to invest wisely and develop from a position of strength.

In the summer of 2022 the £6m deals for Jota and Cameron Carter-Vickers were completed, it looked like the club had realised that the bar had to be moved up with Starting XI signings the priority ahead of squad fillers and projects.

Last summer the clock was reset 20 or 30 years, aside from the £4m spent on Maik Nawrocki it seemed that a £3m cap and age limit of 24 had been applied. None of the 2023 intake were an improvement on the Starting XI that Postecoglou left behind.

Over the piece Celtic’s biggest signings have been successes- on the park. Only Jota was sold on for a profit but you can’t put a price on the contributions of Chris Sutton, Neil Lennon and John Hartson. Sadly they were made almost a quarter of a century ago.

Three signings in the region of £6m has never been more affordable than they are at present but it would come as a shock if £18m was spent this summer, on recent trends six £3m signings are more likely in the hope that one of them can be sold for £20m followed by a round of self congratulations for the strategy.

Stretching all the way back to Eyal Barkavic here is a summary of Celtic’s 10 most expensive signings.


After going through his first season with just Moussa Dembele and Leigh Griffiths as strikers Brendan Rodgers decided that he wanted a third option in attack although he very rarely played with two forwards.

Edouard had an outstanding pedigree as a French youth internationalist but had lost his way on loan at Toulouse and was involved in a bizarre incident involving an air gun.

Things started off fairly quietly at Celtic, there was a player there but not one to oust Dembele or Griffiths out of the team.

That perception changed with a stunning winning goal at Ibrox to give the 10 men a victory, a few weeks later he scored twice in the title clincher as the legend of French Eddie was born.

The £9m release clause was activated, Edouard quickly became Celtic’s only striker, firing in the goals to clinch the Treble Treble then being sold at a profit three years later.

Odsonne Edouard, Celtic


His summer 2019 signing was something of a statement for the new Neil Lennon regime but he sat on the bench as Celtic collapsed to a costly defeat to Cluj in the Champions League.

Jullien came of age at Ibrox a few weeks later as a back four of El Hamed, Bitton, Jullien and Bolingoli put up the shutters for a 2-0 victory in front of 800 joyous away supporters.

By the turn of the year he had scored the winning goals against Lazio and in a League Cup Final but a promising opening season was curtailed by Lockdown.

Season 20/21 was a disaster on so many fronts, perhaps summed up by a serious knee injury after colliding with a goalpost while making a clearance. Jullien did travel on the notorious Dubai trip, tested positive with a whole squad and management team wiped out on return by their travel arrangement.

A full year was lost in his career, he didn’t fit in with Ange Postecoglou and returned to France at Montpellier with no fee mentioned to cover the final year of his Celtic contract.


Despite inheriting Paul Lambert and Stan Petrov Martin O’Neill wanted to bring in his fellow Irishman from Leicester City, in those pre Transfer Window days it took until November to get his man. It is fair to say it was a fruitful partnership.

Lennon hit the ground running at Celtic, there was little glamour or goals about the way he performed but he was quickly part of a core of big characters that kicked on to land the first treble since the days of Jock Stein.

Despite being the most obvious O’Neill signing he stayed on for two more seasons under Gordon Strachan, lasting longer than the others that formed what will forever be known as the Seville side.


Martin O’Neill’s statement of intent, with Mark Viduka anxious to leave the new manager put his faith in Chelsea’s £10m flop who started with a bang and never looked back.

After scoring the winner of his debut at Dundee United he told a stunned David Tanner that he was here to put Rangers in their place, a few weeks later he doubled up with Henrik Larsson for the Demolition Derby and Scottish football never looked the same again.

Sutton was the perfect strike partner for Larsson, he rediscovered the form he’d shown at Blackburn Rovers and had exactly the right attitude to ensure success for Celtic.

He never lasted long under Gordon Strachan, moving to Aston Villa with Celtic suffering ‘a £5m loss’ but the Balance Sheet will never tell the full story.


Despite the goals of the Sutton and Larsson partnership O’Neill spent big again in the summer, trusting his judgement in the Welshman who had failed a medical at Ibrox the previous year.

There was nothing silky or sophisticated about the way Hartson went about his business but he knew the way to goal and was hated by defenders.

His inclusion often pushed Sutton back into an advanced midfield role but whatever pairing O’Neill went with fans were always confident that goals were on the way.

Hartson survived the handover to Strachan, notched his 100th Celtic goal then moved on to West Brom for a paper loss of £5.5m. Money fantastically spent.

JOTA £6m

A deadline day signing from Benfica, many doubted how a skilful product of Portuguese football would cope with the hammer throwers of the Scottish game- Jota thrived on it.

He quickly struck up and understanding with Kyogo Furuhashi and Liel Abada, after six months without an away win in the SPFL to notched the winner away to Aberdeen at the start of October and never looked back, neither did Angeball.

After a summer of globe trotting a £6m deal was struck for a ‘permanent’ move, he sustained the form and goals, striking three in Glasgow Derbies, two of them decisive before a surprise £25m move to Al Ittihad. Even after Benfica took their cut there was still a healthy profit for the Balance Sheet as well as a pile of trophies and memories.

Jota, Celtic, Hampden


Signed at the same time as Jota, on similar terms the Spurs loanee instantly brought stability to the Celtic defence. Forming an understanding with Joe Hart and forming a brilliant partnership with Carl Starfelt.

As a bonus he popped up with a winning goal at Ibrox in a decisive fixture, his form was so good that there were fears that Celtic would be gazumped by an English club for a permanent move.

It was a real triumph to get the £6m move completed, CCV picked up where he ad signed off, playing through the pain barrier as he held off on knee surgery until after a Scottish Cup semi-final win over Micky Beale’s rabble.

His injury absences this season have underlined just how influential a player he is, in January he extended his contract.


Post Fergus this was a statement of intent from new CEO Allan MacDonald and his management dream team.

It just never really worked, Berkovic was very much viewed as the Chosen One of the new manager with Craig Burley particularly put out of place- eventually being sold to Derby County.

When the world caved in on Barnes and Dalglish it also spelled the end for Berkavoc but his lucrative contract was always going to be an obstacle. He did start in O’Neill’s first two SPL matches but after a loan spell at Blackburn Celtic secured a £1.5m face saving fee from Manchester City.


One of the strangest and most expensive signings in Celtic’s history.

Without having seen him play in person Barnes agreed to a £5m deal which almost instantly looked like a case of mistaken identity.

Doubts were soon raised about Rafael’s real age, O’Neill saw through him instantly with loan spells agreed back to Brazil before that chapter was written off, 13 years later Celtic signed Virgil van Dijk for half the fee.


After stalling initially on a move to Celtic to go on holiday the Swiss internationalist arrived too late for the Champions League KO from Ferencvaros but impressed initially with a flow of goals.

Injury brought that to a halt, he never recovered while Ivan Toney, a transfer target at the same time went from strength to strength.

Needs must for Ange Postecoglou, Ajeti did scored a few early goals but the signings of Kyogo Furuhashi, Giorgos Giakoumakis and Daizen Maeda saw Ajeti sidelined, after a season on loan at Sturm Graz he was offloaded to Turkish side Gazishir who quickly shipped him back to Basel.

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