Celtic look set to be dealt a blow with the likely departure of teenage goalkeeping prospect Ryan Mullen.
Football Insider reported that the 18-year-old has rejected the offer of a new deal from the club, who were keen to get him to sign a contract extension as he enters the final six months of his current deal.
According to Football Insider, several English clubs have been put on alert over the possible availability of the youngster for a cut-price deal in January or a free transfer next summer.
Mullen has not played a senior competitive game for Celtic, although he was included in the travelling party with the first team squad for last season’s Europa League trip to Valencia and has partaken in training sessions with Neil Lennon’s senior squad, as noted by 67hailhail.com.
He has experience of playing in the UEFA Youth League with the Hoops’ youth sides, having come up against future Celtic loanee Timothy Weah when they played Paris Saint-Germain in the competition a couple of years ago. He also featured for the reserve team in the Scottish Challenge Cup earlier this season.
According to Football Insider, the 18-year-old is “regarded as one of the brightest young prospects to emerge from Parkhead in recent years”, having also earned international recognition with Scotland’s under-19s.
Having yet to even feature in a matchday squad for the first team, Mullen would likely have had to wait at least another few months for a senior debut, with Lennon having Fraser Forster, Craig Gordon and Scott Bain in the first team squad.
While the latter signed a contract extension a few weeks ago, Forster is due to return to parent club Southampton at the end of this season unless the Hoops can arrange a permanent deal for him. Also, according to Football Insider, Gordon has reportedly given thought to potentially retiring next year.
There remains the possibility that the senior goalkeeping trio will all still be at Celtic again next season, which would likely have made it very difficult for Mullen to get his chance in the first team.
However, if the Hoops are unable to keep Forster beyond next summer and if Gordon decides to call time on his career, there would then be vacancies in the squad for goalkeepers to either come in from elsewhere or step up from the academy.
From Mullen’s perspective, it is understandable if he feels he would get a better chance of a senior breakthrough elsewhere, but his departure still leaves a fear of ‘one that got away’ for Celtic, especially with uncertainty surrounding two of their senior ‘keepers.
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