Celtic supporters have been drowning their sorrows in the Transfer Tavern in recent times after seeing their team bow out of the Champions League at the third qualifying round for the first time under manager Brendan Rodgers.
The ex-Liverpool chief had twice led the Bhoys to the group stages of Europe’s elite competition in his previous two seasons in charge, and they looked a good bet to do so again this time round after easing past Alashkert and Rosenborg in the first two qualifying rounds. Yet the Scottish giants went down 3-2 on aggregate to AEK Athens in the third round to bow out of the competition, and they will now instead seek to make the Europa League by entering the play-off round for Europe’s secondary competition.
As such, there have been many deflated Celtic fans up and down the country, yet with there still a few weeks left in the Scottish window, manager Rodgers must keep the faith by seeking to improve the squad he has, with a reunion with £6.3 million-rated Premier League striker Shane Long (as per Transfermarkt) something he must consider.
Ultimately, things don’t look particularly good for the 31-year-old at current club Southampton, what with the striker failing to make the matchday squad for their opening Premier League clash against Burnley on Sunday.
And the summer arrival of Danny Ings, alongside the other options at St Mary’s in Charlie Austin and Manolo Gabbiadini, leaves the Republic of Ireland international some way down Mark Hughes’ pecking order, and thus facing the prospect of another season with little first team football.
Yet with the Scottish window open until August 31, Rodgers must seek to reunite with the 31-year-old having spent time together at Reading back in 2009, a club where Long arguably produced his best football in netting 54 times in 199 games for the Royals.
Yes, the Irishman is by no means a hugely prolific striker, but what he gives a side instead of that in the forward ranks can be beneficial given he doesn’t give defenders any time on the ball at all, with his tenacity in chasing down lost causes and putting opposition backlines under pressure producing good results over the years.
The ex-Hull City striker is also deceptively good in the air for someone less than six foot tall, while he is also able to hold the ball up and bring others into play – he could prove to be an ideal asset for Rodgers’ side going forward.
And while the likes of Moussa Dembele and Odsonne Edouard would likely to be ahead of Long in the pecking order, the 31-year-old would offer something slightly different as both a starter and indeed a substitute – not many defenders would want to see the Irishman come on in the latter stages of matches.
As such, after a hugely disappointing night in the Champions League, Celtic must pick themselves up by moving for out-of-favour Long before the August 31 deadline, in what could be an ideal addition for the Scottish giants.
Celtic fans… what do you think? Let us know!