As he settles back into familiar settings at Lennoxtown, Brendan Rodgers will waste no time in assessing his Celtic squad.

The returning manager is inheriting a group which won the lot in Scotland last season, but he will know from experience that the unintended but inevitable consequence is that prying eyes from outside Scotland begin to look upon Parkhead’s top talents with serious interest.

As ever, the price of success at Celtic is a number of the current side are being linked with potentially money-spinning transfers. The club can afford to be largely relaxed about this prospect given how well they have managed the transfer market over the past two seasons, and there is a growing acceptance among fans that moving players on at the right time can be of benefit in the long run.

Alistair Johnston for Josip Juranovic is one such example of the ‘aggressive’ policy Ange Postecoglou advocated before he left for Tottenham. He is among those being credited with an interest in his former players.

Here, Herald Sport looks at the players Rodgers will know could be sought after in the months to come, the likelihood of them leaving and how difficult they would be to replace.


A quiet Thursday afternoon in Scottish football was suddenly shaken up by a report claiming Jota had a verbal agreement with Saudi Pro League side Al-Ittihad, who were now ironing the details of a deal out with Celtic. It was quite the bombshell and a first serious indication that the implications of the riches being pumped into the Saudi league could stretch as far as Glasgow.

Financially, it would be a life-changing move for the 24-year-old. Jota will be well compensated at Celtic but this is money on a completely different level. Karim Benzema and N’Golo Kante have already made the jump, and it’s reported that Bernardo Silva and Ruben Neves could be next.

This push from Saudi clubs will clearly put more eyes on the league, but Jota would be giving up a lot if he does indeed depart for the Middle East. Champions League football is the obvious sacrifice, while he is another in Celtic’s ranks who has been rated as having a future in one of Europe’s top divisions.

The 24-year-old’s output last season suggests Celtic will be tested in finding a suitable replacement – 15 goals and 12 assists last season tell the story of a highly effective player. Celtic paid £6m to sign him permanently from Benfica a year ago and is contracted until 2017, so it could well be a case that the money Al-Ittihad are tabling is too good for the club to turn down. Time will tell on that front, but Rodgers would be a losing a key player if he does.

Replacement difficulty: High

Kyogo Furuhashi

Inevitably, perhaps, the player around which there has been most noise so far. Postecoglou made it an absolute priority to get the forward to Celtic in summer 2021 and reports have suggested he could try and facilitate a reunion at Tottenham.

His 33 goals in all competitions last season was the greatest contribution from a single player to Celtic’s treble and dictates a hefty fee would be required to prise him away from Glasgow. Kyogo gave a simple ‘no comment’ when asked about the interest on a trip back to Japan, insisting his focus remained on Celtic.

READ MORE: Why Kieran Tierney and Celtic's reunion may have to wait

But the striker is reaching an age where time may be running out for him to play at the highest level. He will turn 29 in six months’ time, and the more that clock ticks on the less value big clubs see in a potential transfer.  From Celtic’s perspective, there is little incentive to sell for anything other than a colossal fee. Kyogo has been of hugely significant importance and with the Parkhead bank balance looking decidedly healthy – plus the player being under contract until 2025 – the club are in a strong position.

There is also little guarantee that such an immense goal contribution can be easily replaced. Reaching the 30 mark was the first time a Celtic player had done so in six years, with even the likes of Moussa Dembele and Odsonne Edouard unable to manage it. The case for doing everything possible to keep Kyogo is strong.

Replacement difficulty: High

Reo Hatate

Arguably the Celtic player with the highest ceiling, Hatate  shot straight to the top of the news agenda earlier this week amid yet more interest from the Saudi Pro League.

It was claimed the 25-year-old is also a target for Al-Ittihad, who have now seemingly set their sights on Jota. Despite the obvious financial incentive, Hatate’s agent was quick to shut the scenario down, insisting there was ‘no chance’ he would leave Europe for the Middle East.

Hatate comes across as a laser-focused personality and he clearly believes Champions League football with Celtic or the prospect of a Premier League move as more attractive options. He is one for which the club would be able to set a high price given his age, and the fact that a string of impressive displays on Europe’s elite stage last season will not have gone unnoticed. There is no better barometer of a player’s suitability for a step-up.

But Rodgers will certainly want to keep a player of Hatate’s calibre around for the group stage if he can. The addition of Odin Thiago Holm into an already crowded midfield contingent suggests some turnover in that area is expected before the window closes.

Hatate would clearly be difficult to replace but he feels like one whose ambitions will inevitably steer him towards the elite leagues if clubs were to come calling. Again, Celtic would be able to make a handy profit and possibly benefit further from the sell-on clauses they have been adept at negotiating into deals.

Replacement difficulty: Moderate

Liel Abada

Another being strongly linked with a string of clubs, including Ajax, Crystal Palace and recently-relegated Southampton. There have been conflicting reports over the last week as to whether Abada has turned down the offer of a new contract from Celtic, with his current deal running until 2026.

It stands to reason any contract tabled would surely be more about improving his current terms over significantly extending an agreement which still has another three seasons to run. It could suggest Abada ultimately sees his future lying elsewhere, albeit he has stated he is satisfied with life in Glasgow as things stand.

He did have some injury issues to contend with, but Abada was not a guaranteed starter under Postecoglou last season as Jota and Daizen Maeda emerged as the former manager’s regular picks on the wing. It means if any reportedly interested parties come calling Celtic would not be losing a player who was indispensable to the side on a weekly basis.

READ MORE: Postecoglou factor could influence Harry Kane's Spurs future

His age, still just 21, and potential are something clubs would be willing to pay for, and it may end up being the best outcome for all parties. Celtic have been shrewd in making acquisitions but, before his departure, Postecoglou also made clear they must keep applying that to departures, too.

The imminent arrival of winger Marco Tilio again suggests that some turnover on the flanks is being prepared for. Abada is an excellent young footballer but one whose exit Celtic could comfortably mitigate.

Replacement difficulty: Moderate


The foundation of Postecoglou’s Celtic, the centre-back has often looked like a player capable of operating at a higher level. Celtic weren’t quite the same defensive unit without him, but his absence at the end of last season and over the next few months may just lower the risk of a transfer considerably.

Carter-Vickers is recovering from knee surgery and is not expected to return to action until the start of the new campaign. As with some of his team-mates, interested from his former club Tottenham has been reported but you do begin to think there are only so many of his ex-players Postecoglou can have a serious interest in reuniting with.

The fact Carter-Vickers will not be available to play for some time yet likely puts off a departure this summer, with reports in the USA stating he is focused on the upcoming campaign with Celtic. Postecoglou’s need for quick improvement at Spurs is urgent and it seems unlikely he would spend a chunk of his, admittedly sizeable, transfer budget on a player who will need to be given time to return to top form.

Carter-Vickers would also be among the most difficult to replace. Already established centre-backs of a high calibre are difficult to attract to the SPFL and the onus would be on Celtic’s recruitment team to uncover another gem. The 25-year-old feels pivotal to the club’s Champions League hopes next season, and keeping him around for it will be a high priority.

Replacement difficulty: High