The protracted transfer saga involving David Turnbull, Celtic, Motherwell, his agent and just about every Scottish football journalist is over for the time being after the 19-year-old failed a medical, but this might give Celtic a window of opportunity to go out and get one of the brightest talents in the English Championship.
West Brom’s Rekeem Harper is now out of contract and free to discuss terms with sides, much to the delight of some of Europe’s biggest clubs. While Neil Lennon’s men might struggle to compete with the likes of Liverpool and Juventus financially they can show the player that there is a clear pathway for Harper to follow: sign for Celtic, play in European football, win some trophies and be moved on to a bigger club. Celtic can point to the experiences of Moussa Dembele and Virgil van Dijk as two pertinent examples of this pathway that have succeeded in the not too distant past.
Harper would add a bit of flair to Lennon’s side and provide Callum McGregor with an able understudy to allow the midfielder more of a rest and avoid burning out like he did last season. He could add a bit of creativity which might be needed if the inconsistent Tom Rogic departs to Russia as some reports suggest.
It’s rare that a player of Harper’s (potential) ability comes about for free and this is a market Celtic might need to take advantage of this summer as the squad goes under the knife for major surgery. Christopher Julien has already arrived in a £7 million deal and there’s no guarantee there’s much more in Lennon’s transfer pot given the club’s recent reluctance to spend money, preferring to prop up the squad with loans and emerging talents from the youth academy. Even if the Kieran Tierney to Arsenal transfer goes through you’d imagine Lennon, on a 12-month rolling contract, won’t see the majority of the fee believed to be in the region of £22 million.
Harper could be a rarity in the market in that he’s a player worth far more than what a club would have to pay for him and this is exactly the sort of deal the current Celtic model relies upon in order to be successful, just take the likes of Dembele, van Dijk and Ryan Christie for example. On top of being a smart financial decision, Harper would add to an already strong midfield and allow McGregor to take a well-earned match or two off throughout the course of a season that the Celtic board and fans will last at least 60 games.