WE’RE now into the second week of the January window and, so far, as I write this on a Monday night, it’s eerily quiet on the Celtic transfer front.

That’s not to say work isn’t being done behind the scenes – I should hope it is – but the manager has previously spoken of the benefits of getting recruits in early, allowing them time to integrate with the rest of the squad.

However, I understand that at this time of year, with the majority of the footballing world mid-season, there will be a reluctance among clubs to sell their prized assets. The Hoops included.

Rumours abound that Matt O’Riley is receiving several admiring glances (and not just from the ladies) south of the border.

The club would be crazy to let him go this month, unless they receive an offer they couldn’t refuse. And by that I’m referring to £30m minimum.

Still, in such an event, a well-oiled recruitment set-up would have a list of potential replacements ready – cash on the hip and raring to make bids.

I don’t get that impression from Mark Lawwell, son of the chairman. And yes, I will always hammer home who his dad is. An entire planet of scouts and footballing masterminds out there, and the best person for the job just happened to be him. A stroke of luck, eh?

We saw the strategy of the summer transfer window. Sling money at “potential” and hope that something sticks.

Ten were signed and only Luis Palma, and now Paulo Bernardo, can be deemed as promising. Maik Nawrocki is back in the fold, but he needs more game time. 

Last June, fans were crying out for a goalkeeper, left-back and another striker. They didn’t get any of those.

Brendan Rodgers pointed out at the tail-end of 2023 that he knows the areas he wants to strengthen, and from the names that have been linked, it’s obvious that these positions are a priority during this window and the next.

Starting with a striker, Brondby’s Mathias Kvistgaarden is one name that keeps resurfacing, but the Danes have said they won’t budge from an asking price of around £8m, which might be too expensive for Celtic. He does, however, generally fit the mould of what the club looks for: only 21 with plenty of room for improvement.

At just 5ft8in, though, this isn’t what the manager wants, having continually stated his desire for more pace and power. I’d chalk this one up to unlikely. 

The same goes for Hearts’ Lawrence Shankland, who has been having a fantastic season in Edinburgh, bagging 19 goals across all competitions this season, 13 of which have come in the Premiership.

He scored at Celtic Park in December and has also been linked with Rangers, the club he supports.

The Jambos want around £4m-5m, and with Shankland turning 29 in August, I can’t imagine the board deeming him to be of sufficient value. Good player, though.

Bojan Miovski of Aberdeen is another one. Since joining from MTK Budapest in 2022, the 24-year-old Macedonian has netted 33 goals in 72 appearances and has impressed at European level for the Dons. Is he better than Kyogo? Nope, but he is intelligent, strong and no slouch.

Southampton have scouted him as well, so there would be competition for his signature.
His fee is likely to be similar to Shankland’s and would be my preference out of the two.

Other tenuous links in the striking department include Sydney van Hooijdonk (son of ex-player Pierre) and Joe Gelhardt of Leeds. 

Regarding left-back, Greg Taylor has certainly improved his performances in recent weeks, and was excellent in the victory over Rangers. Despite that, the general feeling is that the position could be improved.

Alexandro Bernabei has proven a flop and is talking to clubs in Italy and his native Argentina. 

Tiago Arujo (22), who plays for Estoril in Portugal, has been heavily tipped to come in for £4m. That chat has gone quiet in recent weeks, but it’s one to keep an eye on, especially as the usually-reliable Daily Mail journalist Stephen McGowan noted it could be on the cards.

Gijs Smal, from FC Twente in the Netherlands, has popped up as well, along with a link to Rangers.

Call me cynical, but some in the media throw Celtic’s name into the hat when they hear Rangers are after a player, and if the Ibrox club do sign them, they can concoct a story on how the Bhoys were “beaten to the race”. A nice way to get clicks as well.

As for a new goalkeeper, well, you might have to wait until the season’s over if Rodgers’ latest comments are anything to go by. 

“It’s not something that we’re looking at just now. There are other areas we have to look at first,” he said.

“There will be positions in the summer we’ll be able to improve on and it’s the same in January, but I love working with Joe [Hart], he’s a great guy. Hopefully he continues.”

Hart has, largely, been decent for Celtic since joining in 2021, but as he approaches 37 years of age, it’s clear that his best days are behind him.

It’s a risk to persist with him for the remainder of the campaign, but it’s one they seem content to take. Just as Rangers regretted giving Allan McGregor one final hurrah, I hope Celtic don’t look back in wishing they had replaced an old ’keeper.

In finishing this week, I’ll repeat what I’ve said in previous columns.

Clubs like Celtic can never relax when it comes to recruitment. You’ll hear many fans say the likes of, “the window’s barely open, calm down” and all that guff, but they have been stung in the past due to their tendency to fall asleep at the wheel.

I get that some deals can become protracted, but you can’t let time fester away and scramble to get players during the final few days.

Mark Lawwell has had two poor transfer windows in a row. You’d imagine he couldn’t survive a third. Then again, he definitely would.