Breathless talks of a rebuild are in the air again. It must be the summer transfer window again!

And whilst one might think that the champions are in a good place with real silverware to polish over the break, the prospect of the recruitment department being hyper-busy looms over Celtic Park also.

In short, Celtic are managing a squad that is too large, and with a new manager one year into his tenure, with his own ideas about how he sees the shape of that squad.

The ghost of Ange

In many respects, I am feeling season one Ange Postecoglou vibes. In 2021-22, the Australian named 48 players in match-day squads but by the end of the season had a core of 17 that were trusted to perform on the pitch. This season, Brendan Rodgers has named 40 players throughout all matches in all tournaments, but the list of those who have completed the statistically significant 900 minutes is much leaner.

Again, the magic number appears to be 17!

Only five players appeared in over 40 matches worth of minutes – Joe Hart, Matt O’Riley, Greg Taylor, Liam Scales and Callum McGregor. The club completed 50 matches over the season. Remember, this is the number of equivalent full matches their total minutes add up to. Each player appeared in more matches than this. For example, Paulo Bernardo appeared in 33 matches but completed only two. His total minutes are the equivalent of just over 16 games.

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Seven of our magic 17 completed less than 20 games’ worth of minutes. Consider too that Bernardo was a loanee now departed. The likes of Luis Palma and Yang Hyun-jun became increasingly scarce as the season progressed and their long-term futures in the manager's mind are not clear. Of course, Joe Hart is now retired. Then consider that Celtic may elect to sell player of the year Matt O’Riley who is at the peak of his asset value.

17 becomes 12 suddenly. And of those 12 which ones would we consider nailed-on starters? I’d argue only McGregor, Alistair Johnston, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Daizen Maeda, and Kyogo Furuhashi could be thus classified.

Hmmm, it suddenly seems like a rebuild.

Forgotten men

What about the 23 players who did not manage to complete 900 minutes, surely there is some utility there?

Here’s the list:

Some have already left. David Turnbull, Liel Abada, Carl Starfelt, and Yosuke Ideguchi have permanently departed the club. Adam Idah, and Nat Phillips, were on loan and have returned to their clubs. Other than Maik Nawrocki and Odin Tiago Holm, how many others could be argued to be first team candidates next season?

The rest can be categorised as first-team age but surplus to requirements (Oh Hyeon-gyu, Gustaf Lagerbielke, Mikey Johnston, Sead Haksabanovic, Benji Siegrist, Yuki Kobayashi, Alex Bernabei, Kwon Hyeok-kyu). Can we realistically see any of the aforementioned in the first team next season? The injury afflicted Stephen Welsh could be added to that list.

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Or youth prospects (Daniel Kelly, Rocco Vata, Marco Tillio, Mitchel Frame, Bosum Lawal, Adam Montgomery, Ben Summers, Matthew Anderson, Tobi Oluwayemi, Johnny Kenny) - how many of the latter will be promoted to regular members of the first team squad? Anderson and Lawal had stellar loans last season and may have a chance. Montgomery has been granted a new contract despite a serious injury.


Rodgers achieved the double with a small core of key players, as Postecoglou had done in his first season. Given that eight players were out on the type of loan you wouldn’t classify as “development” but rather “one step out the door”, when they return the first-team squad burgeons to 29 players. Of those, I’d classify seven maximum as Champions League starters. I’d classify another eight as “useful squad players”.

Celtic needs to potentially let 14 first-team players leave as well as sorting out the futures of a slew of younger players. The department responsible for exits will be particularly busy. The specifics of recruitment are for another day, but this too looks like a large undertaking.

Plenty to talk about in the months ahead, then!