With all of the movement out of Celtic concerning first-team players, you would be forgiven for thinking the club was in the middle of a transfer window.

Of course, that is not the case, as both windows have come and gone this season, though the point still remains. Two of Celtic’s bigger assets – costing a combined estimated total of £7.5 million back in 2021 and 2022 respectively – look set to leave the club in the form of Liel Abada and Alexandro Bernabei. The former will head to North America to join MLS expansion club Charlotte FC, whilst the latter moves south of the equator to SC Internacional in Brazil’s Serie A.

One of these moves makes perfect sense, given the current situation Abada finds himself in. A player not contributing whatsoever to proceedings, the Israel international’s best bet was to move to pastures new, which should be finalised in the next couple of days. This was touched on in more detail in my article on the player yesterday, which you can find here. Admittedly, though, Abada has made a far bigger impact on the pitch than his departing counterpart in Bernabei.

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This exit says a lot about the aforementioned Argentina left-back’s position on the Celtic food chain. Not even fancied as a back-up left-back for Greg Taylor, the 23-year-old has been given the all-clear to move on, despite leaving that position even lighter due to his departure. Good news for the likes of Mitchel Frame, who may now get more of a look-in at the club, but a sad indictment of Celtic’s sub-par recruitment over the past couple of years.

Aptly timed, the imminent departure of Bernabei was reported a little under five days after the confirmed resignation of Celtic’s head of recruitment Mark Lawwell. A signing that happened directly under his watch – the first under his tenure as recruitment chief – it set the tone for the rest of his spell as the club’s top talent-spotter. Brought in as direct competition for Taylor, the South American was never fully trusted by either Ange Postecoglou or his successor Brendan Rodgers with consistently playing this position.

In fact, not many would argue against the fact that Bernabei was pound-for-pound a disastrous signing, both on and off the pitch, for the club since his July 2022 arrival. From his debatable defensive abilities on the park to his carelessness off of it, the left-back has been consistently leaving many scratching their heads since joining the club. For £3.75 million, you would expect a far better output from a player who was seemingly highly rated back in his homeland.

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These two departures happening mid-season without the possibility of replacing them through transfers is concerning, though, especially if injuries do arise. This is perhaps more in the case of Bernabei due to Celtic’s options at left-back, though it is not an ideal situation to be in for either position, in all honesty. Both areas will have to be strengthened in the summer, along with a first-choice goalkeeper and – most importantly – a new head of recruitment!

A busy summer ahead for the club, but one that must be executed with precision and success to harbour the best results on the pitch. This can only be completed with a competent head of recruitment at the helm of the operation. I’ve gone on record in recent days saying that Celtic’s biggest signing this summer will be that of a new and improved individual heading this position, though that may be easier said than done. If the right appointment is made, then these vacant positions in the team should be able to be filled by well-scouted players, who fit into whatever system the manager requires to play – whether that be Rodgers or anyone else.

This summer looks to be a summer of change, whether that be on the park or away from it. Rumours of a change in the boardroom look more materialised than ever, thanks to the departure of Lawwell and top scout Joe Dudgeon, both of whom came from the City Football Group, founded by Abu Dhabi United Group. Will more members of the hierarchy leave for pastures new? We will have to wait and see on that one.

One thing is for sure, and that is the departure of two first-team players in March is an odd position for a side like Celtic to be in. Both have their reasons, sure, but the club are in the midst of their toughest title race in over a decade, so the optics of players leaving is never a good look, regardless of the potential fee they will receive for Abada (Bernabei is leaving initially on loan).

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Thankfully, these two players at present would not be considered as ‘starters’ in this current squad. Taylor has returned from injury and immediately assumed the left-back role, whilst the likes of Luis Palma, Nicolas Kuhn, Daizen Maeda and most recently Yang Hyun-jun have been ahead of Abada in the pecking order, though this may be down to the player rather than individual ability.

Overall, Celtic NOW know the squad they will be dealing with from now until the end of the season, for better or for worse. The rest of the squad – knowing where their immediate future lies – must stay locked in, as this is going to be a bumpy ride from now until the end of the campaign.

Let’s see if Rodgers and his players can finish their story, despite everything seemingly against them at the moment.