Celtic have got to protect their playing assets on and off of the park.

This comes in many forms, such as managing their game time, addressing any injuries that they may have, or taking them out of the firing line when the going gets tough. Clubs must also be shrewd in contract negotiations when it comes to doing what is best for the player and team.

It was reported recently that two of Celtic’s success stories over the past two years, Liel Abada and Reo Hatate, were set for talks about new terms. The Israeli winger has three years left to run on his deal, as does the Japanese midfielder, with both players contracted until the summer of 2026. Due to this, Celtic are protected in the short to medium term regarding potential bids for their players. However, it appears that the club want to safeguard two of their most important assets for the long term, too. This comes off the back of renewals in the summer to the contracts of important squad members such as the captain Callum McGregor, Daizen Maeda and the striker Kyogo Furuhashi, all of whom committed their futures to the club for the long haul.

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Of course, this would mean an increase in wages for the pair, which would be fair game given both of their impacts on the team since their arrival in Scotland during the 2021/22 season. This summer, there have been murmurings of potential moves away for both of these players, so to tie them down on extended deals would be a significant coup for the club in the future. That is not to say that they would see out the remainder of their deals at the club, but an increase in contract length and terms would in turn send a message to potential buyers that they will not be able to get Celtic’s prized assets for anything less than a premium rate. This is exactly how the transfer policy and strategy at the club should be operating, especially under the guidance of Mark Lawwell as the head of recruitment.

Hatate’s comments once again spring to mind concerning the execution of this transfer model. The midfielder comes across as someone who seems well-driven to get to where he believes he needs to be in a footballing capacity. His quotes after the Gamba Osaka friendly to local media about being on the lookout for his “next challenge” in the game - specifically the English Premier League – gained a lot of traction and speculation as to where his immediate future lay involving Celtic. His calf injury picked up against Aberdeen on Sunday – along with his spell on the bench because of David Turnbull’s positive start to the season – indicate that Hatate’s season has not really got going yet. Perhaps this show of faith from the club in the shape of a bumper contract could get the player going again ahead of his return sometime next month.

As for Abada, reports have swirled all summer about where the midfielder would ply his trade this season, with Fenerbahce and Ajax both linked with the winger. Still only 21, he would command a good fee if he were to part ways with Celtic at this moment, but it looks as if Brendan Rodgers has worked his man-management magic on yet another player. After impressing against Ross County and breaking the deadlock away to Aberdeen at Pittodrie, the rejuvenated Abada has made a stellar start to what is his third season with Celtic.  Despite having rejected advances from the club before, perhaps Abada is now better placed to commit his future to the team.

If these two players were to sign renewals, then that would be five of Celtic’s key players now operating on increased terms. Following his electric start to the season, you would not be surprised if Matt O’Riley was next to get the call regarding a pay rise. Similarly, Cameron Carter-Vickers’ importance to the defensive backline cannot be understated, so a conscious effort to keep him around at the club must be initiated now - if it has not already commenced.

Like the previous pair, both O’Riley and Carter-Vickers’ contracts end in the summer of 2026. A good while away, yes, but Celtic will ideally want to avoid a pileup of expiries happening in the same window. Both have displayed their importance to the first team over a prolonged period of time. Especially with O’Riley, Celtic will see the undoubted potential profit that could be made through selling this player, so getting his long-term contractual situation sorted out could be a money-making masterstroke down the line for the club. If he keeps playing at the rate he is currently operating at Celtic, there may have to be serious discussions regarding this eventuality, especially if the Denmark national team call him up.

READ MORE: Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers calls for further incomings

Turnbull’s contract situation is another area where Celtic need a definitive answer regarding his future. After all, he is free to discuss terms with potential suitor clubs in the next window, meaning Celtic would lose out on recouping any of the £3million they forked out for him in 2020. Needless to say, the player himself has indicated that he would prefer to stay at the club, so it is up to the club to act accordingly as they see fit with Turnbull.

Celtic as a club have done positive business regarding the safeguarding some of their assets for the long-term this season. With Hatate and Abada next on that list, they are effectively protecting themselves from any potential mishap on the contractual front. By giving these players better wages, the club keeps them happy, and their value increases due to the longer contracts they find themselves on. This effective and proactive planning will ensure the long-term success of the club, both on the pitch and off it.