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In conversation with Mark Cooper- Celtic’s new recruitment chief

Celtic have brought in Mark Cooper to take on a senior role in recruitment, the news comes from the most reliable of Celtic sources, Stephen McGowan of the Daily Mail.

Listeners to the Celtic Underground podcast will recall the name of Cooper who has joined the team now and then to give a view from afar, from his base in South America.

In 2016 Celtic Underground introduced him as:

This week we are joined by our South American correspondent, Mark Cooper. Mark is based in Argentina and now works for a company to seeks out footballing talent across South America but principally in Argentina and Uruguay.

Spending the best part of a decade in South America before moving to the USA Cooper will have built up contacts across the globe with South America the biggest exporter of footballing talent.

Across Europe and Asia there are dozens of Argentinians, Brazilians and Uruguayans although there are fewer playing in the UK.

Ange Postecoglou worked the Asian market to good effect but that came from the highest possible direct level as manager of Yokohama F Marinos, replicating that level of success is quite a benchmark even with Yuki Kobayashi and Yosuke Ideguchi included.

After three disastrous transfer windows under the control of Mark Lawwell it seems that Brendan Rodgers took control in January with Nicolas Kuhn and Adam Idah making a bigger contribution to the first team that Lawwell’s summer job lot of eight permanent signings.

Highlighting the new direction, in the Daily Mail McGowan reports:

Celtic, meanwhile, have hired former South American talent spotter Mark Cooper in a revamp of the club’s scouting set-up.

Head of player recruitment Mark Lawwell, son of Celtic chairman Peter, and chief scout Joe Dudgeon left the Parkhead club to ‘pursue new challenges’ in a clear-out of the recruitment department in March.

Previously based in South America, Cooper went on to work in MLS, but the Scot has now been lured back to Glasgow in a full-time role. Highly rated by manager Rodgers, Cooper has been set the task of improving the standard of first-team recruitment.

Targeting players aged between 19 and 23, with international experience and fitting certain financial criteria, Celtic’s hit rate came under scrutiny after a number of the club’s summer signings failed to hit the ground running at first-team level.

Of the dozen new captures brought in over the last two transfer windows, Nicolas Kuhn was the only starter in Saturday’s 3-0 win over Hearts.

Expected to strengthen in a number of key positions this summer, goalkeeper, the left side of defence, midfield and attack are priority areas and Cooper has already set to work on drawing up a list of players likely to make an impact.

May 2019 podcast with Cooper reflecting on how Celtic have changed under Neil Lennon following Rodgers’ move to Leicester City.

This summer Celtic are badly in need of a quality not quantity approach to recruitment with Jota and Cameron Carter-Vickers the benchmark signings.

Arriving on loan in August 2021 they signed permanent moves a year later for fees in the region of £6m with wages at the top of the Celtic scale. Both players made significant contributions towards achieving two lucrative Champions League campaigns with Celtic left with a clear profit of around £10m after selling Jota to Al Ittihad.

The summer 2023 Recruitment will take a long time to clear with most of the players signed on five year contracts. Marco Tilio and Kwon Hyeok-kyu have already been sent out on loan with only injury worries over Carter-Vickers preventing Gus Lagerbielke joining Lecce on loan.

Only Luis Palma has made any sort of positive impression on the team but his style of play seems to be at odds with the way Rodgers sets his side out to play.

Signing a goalkeeper will be a priority for Cooper, with Joe Hart retiring a new keeper needs to be on the training ground for the first day of pre-season training rather than arriving on Deadline Day as Peter Lawwell prefers.

The European Championships during June and July is a major obstacle to recruitment but after a year in the job Rodgers should have a good grasp of what is required and some targets to avoid the issues of last summer that saw the Irishman go into the new season short-changed.

Cooper discusses where Celtic should be with a recruitment strategy, shortly before the arrival of Brendan Rodgers in 2016.

CLICK HERE for Celtic fans celebrate in Santa Ponsa.

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