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Celtic’s summer business so far shows that the club has a clear strategy when it comes to nurturing young talent.

20-year-old Norwegian midfielder Odin Thiago Holm was the first signing of the window, with Australian winger Marco Tilio joining him not long after. Signed from Valerenga and Melbourne City respectively, Brendan Rodgers’ first recruits following his return as Celtic manager both look set to fight for a place in his new-look team.

For Holm, he will be encouraged by the departure of one of his team-mates vying for a midfield starting position in Aaron Mooy. The Australian decided to call it quits following a recurring back injury, with his exit paving the way for first-team opportunities for the youngster.

No stranger to making the step-up, Holm has made 76 professional appearances already in his young career at Valerenga, blending his natural youthful exuberance with existing experience at a senior level in his homeland.

For Tilio, he shares that same experience at the top level of professional football in his native Australia. The three-time A-League Premiership winner has made 88 professional appearances in his four-year career, demonstrating the first-team experience that potentially attracted Celtic to his talents.

Mostly deployed as a right-winger, Tilio will look to get in the team ahead of players such as Liel Abada and James Forrest. The departure of Jota – who was deployed as a right-winger for the majority of last season - to Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ittihad is looking increasingly likely, meaning this space is very much up for grabs next campaign.

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Admittedly, these players could be considered as projects, but both have displayed the ability to play at a senior level despite their ages. They will be expected to make an impact on the first team when they are called upon and must use pre-season to impress the new manager immediately.

Due to the financial restriction of the SPFL, a lot of signings Celtic make will be in the bracket of Tilio and Holm. This could be interpreted as a bad thing, with players not being at the club when they hit their peak, but Celtic are going about their strategy the right way.

Take the example of Yang Hyun-Jun, the 21-year-old Gangwon FC winger who is desperate for a move to Celtic. In a recent interview, he spoke about the lengths he is taking to join the club.

He said: "If the transfer fee isn’t enough, I’ll even give my own salary. I want to go to Celtic this summer. I hope Gangwon will allow me to transfer. I really want to go out this time. My colleagues and seniors from other teams also tell me to go to Europe, I don’t think about staying in Gangwon right now.”

From these quotes, it is clear that Celtic are an extremely attractive destination for young players looking to take the next step in their careers. For Yang, he will have seen the impact his countryman Oh Hyeon-gyu has made and, in turn, decided that he wants the same for himself, as well as the massive impact the Japanese players have also made on proceedings.

This domino effect can only benefit Celtic in the long run, so long as they consistently stick to this model. A youthful team with assets littered all over the pitch will provide freshness across multiple positions, as well as a means to profit when richer clubs come calling.

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One of the biggest pull factors for these young players joining the club has to be the lure of the Champions League. In its current form, Celtic are guaranteed at least six games at Europe’s top table of continental football in the group stage, with the potential to progress to the last 16 or drop down to the Europa League also possible.

This will change after next season, however. The Champions League will move to a ‘Swiss model’, meaning that the competition will be in a league table format rather than groups. As a result, those teams involved will play at least eight games in this format rather than six, with the scope to play more if you progress further in proceedings.

This increased spotlight will only further the appeal of Celtic in the long-term, especially to young players looking to make their name in Europe. More games mean more eyes and therefore more opportunities to impress those spectating, such as international managers and scouts for more established European outfits.

Of course, this is not to say that Celtic should litter the squad with players exclusively under the age of 23, as there should be a balance in the squad with regard to ages. Without this experience which older players bring to the side, young players could struggle with the demands of the season both domestically and on the European stage. It is vital that the club have a balanced mix of the two.

As long as Celtic are comfortable with where they operate on the football food chain, then this model for young players will continue to be successful. Jota leaving for upwards of €30 million to pastures new is proof that this concept works for the club and should be continued in the long run to ensure success both on and off the pitch.

This piece is an extract from the latest Celtic Digest newsletter, which is emailed out every weekday evening with a round-up of the day's top stories and exclusive analysis from The Celtic Way team.

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