Champions League calamity may mean Celtic sales
Celtic must overturn a 4-1 deficit against Polish top-flight team Leiga Warsaw, or face a humiliating Champions League exit before the competition proper even begins.
Should new Bhoys boss Ronny Deila fail to rescue this fledgling European adventure, however, then he will come under massive pressure already and may face losing some leading lights. Chief among those would be Celtic number one Fraser Forster, who is now odds-on at 1/2 with Coral to quit the Glasgow giants for Southampton during the summer transfer window.
Another Saints bid would surely materialise if the Bhoys drop into the Europa League play-offs, with Ronald Koeman offering the England international an alluring prospect of regular Premier League football. Forster’s international ambitions are unlikely to be realised by playing for the Scottish club.
This season’s Scottish Premiership is devoid, not just of Rangers, but Edinburgh pair Hearts and Hibs too, so the strength of opposition for Forster to keep out is in question. It’s a similar story for emerging Netherlands centre back Virgil van Dijk.
Dutch defenders are very much en vogue right now, with Bruno Martins Indi and Stefan de Vrij earning moves off the back of their World Cup exploits. If Van Dijk wants Clockwork Orange caps, then he will only receive recognition if Celtic can turn things around and compete in the Champions League with Europe’s elite.
If not, then he will also have to consider a switch south of the border to the Premier League – again with Southampton and compatriot Ronald Koeman reportedly interested. Van Dijk’s reputation has not been enhanced by being part of a backline that conceded four goals and two penalties, neither of which were scored.
The Bhoys would practically be out if Leiga Warsaw had punished them fully. “I’m unbelievably disappointed,” Deila said after the defeat in Poland. “We started well and then conceded an easy goal. We lost our heads.”
It’s not just heads that will be gone if Celtic crash out of the Champions League, but bodies as well, further weakening their spine ahead of the Premiership defence.