Changing manager is usually highly disruptive for a football club. 

Magnify this when many of the key players already at the club are determined to leave and the incoming manager has highly specific requirements around the players needed to implement his vision.

Such was the situation Ange Postecoglou and Celtic found themselves in from June 2021 onwards. 

Churn by numbers

From that June to the end of the season, 15 players left and 16 were signed. Furthermore, three first-team starters were loaned in (Cameron Carter-Vickers, Jota and Daizen Maeda) while there were 16 loans out. 

Tellingly, none of those loaned out for the 2021-22 season have featured in the first team in 2022-23.

This season, a further 19 players have left the club with 11 incoming and three loanees.

READ MORE: How Greg Taylor has reached a whole new Celtic level

There have been/are 14 loans out, many for erstwhile first-team players. Only a few of those loan arrangements, such as Ewan Otoo’s recent stint to Dunfermline Athletic, can be seen as truly developmental.

So that's 61 permanent ins and outs alongside 36 loan arrangements for nearly 100 transfers over two seasons. Those numbers include the B team business.

Is this just the way it is, or will the squad settle down for a period?

Squad shape

I like to use this schematic to illustrate the current shape of the squad:

Some obvious areas for consideration are:

Celtic have five goalkeepers aged 25 and older yet only one, Joe Hart, really plays. A seasoned backup is probably critical but are the others prepared to be the third choice at that age?

The defensive group trends on the young side with Carl Starfelt at 27 the elder statesman. Do Celtic need more experience in the defensive areas?

With Albian Ajeti’s future likely away from Celtic, the club looks very light on senior strikers.

There are 34 senior professionals on that chart. Celtic would likely aim for a steady first-team squad of around 25, supplemented with the most promising B-team prospects.

While there are some gaps and questions as to the fit of talents to style - especially on the left side of defence and in central midfield - it is clear some major pruning is also needed.

Loanees' future

If we consider those out on loan, what future at Celtic, if any, is there? 

Loans can be used to develop players you see a bright future for – Callum McGregor’s season at Notts County battling relegation from the English Football League being a stellar example.

For senior professionals, it is usually the first step out the door. You are surplus to first-team plans at Celtic and your wage is a drain so let’s find another club to pick up some of that and encourage you to see different horizons.

Eight senior pros are currently out on loan:

Of those, Mikey Johnston was awarded a contract through to 2026 so one would think there is still hope for him. However, he has only started three matches this year for Vitoria Guimaraes, although he made his international debut for the Republic of Ireland in the recent round of matches. Indeed, 11 starts in 33 matches (three full 90 minutes played) does not suggest that at 23 years old you will come back and command a Celtic starting berth.

Adam Montgomery has been sent on loan to St Johnstone. When Celtic send a player on loan to another Scottish Premiership club, especially a young one, this suggests they see merit in testing him at that level. Anthony Ralston and Kristoffer Ajer were recent beneficiaries of this pathway.

Montgomery has appeared in 19 of the Saints' top-flight matches and has completed a full match 13 times. There is hope, perhaps, that he still has a future at Celtic.

As for the other six, it appears highly unlikely they have a future at the club and, therefore, the presumption is that Michael Nicholson is hard at work securing moves away to free up berths and wages to provide Postecoglou greater flexibility for the ongoing management of the squad.

Celtic Way:


Postecoglou is currently operating with a 26-man first-team squad of senior professionals.

Four of those are goalkeepers and one is a loanee (Tomoki Iwata) although he is certain to sign full-time in the summer of 2023.

The first team has been supplemented by at least three promising young players from the B team in Ben Summers, Bosun Lawal and Rocco Vata. We may see more of them in the first-team squad before the end of the season circumstances permitting.

Celtic have named 34 different players in their matchday squads throughout the season. Of the first team squad members on active service for Celtic, here are the current utilisations for those who have more than 900 minutes in the first team across all competitions:

There are only 20 players with more than 900 minutes and three of those (Josip Juranovic, Mortiz Jenz and Giorgos Giakoumamkis) are no longer at the club.

Here are those who are in the first-team squad but have less than 900 minutes:

Two of these players are backup goalkeepers and Oliver Abildgaard is no longer at the club.

Based on recent squad selection, Iwata, Yuki Kobayashi and Oh Hyeon-gyu seem firmly in the manager's plans while Benjamin Siegrist, when fit, is the nominated backup goalkeeper.

None of the rest, including James Forrest and Stephen Welsh, has featured much recently within the matchday squads (although Forrest is injured).


Postecoglou is currently chasing a treble relying on 17 first-team squad members, supported by three recent signings and a backup goalkeeper taking that up to 21 primary matchday candidates.

Yet Celtic have 34 senior professionals and a handful of B-team prospects.

It is clear that there is significant squad management needed to reduce the overall first-team pool to those with realistic futures at the club. That will not be easy as these are players that will all be on relatively high wages and some will not have recent form as a selling point.

Meanwhile, decisions will be needed on the futures of a group of homegrown talents who are on the fringes currently – Johnston, Montgomery, Welsh and Forrest. UEFA rules on the number of homegrown players in your matchday roster will also be relevant.

And then there are the gaps and weaknesses in the squad that still need to be addressed such as the left side of defence, the suitability of the central midfield at Champions League level and the lack of depth at striker.

Long story short? There is much work still to do...