WHEN Kris Commons kicked off his boots at a chilly New Douglas Park in January 2015 and launched them into the visiting Celtic support as he thumped the Hoops crest on his club jacket and saluted the green and white hordes, it seemed like the stage was set for his exit. Rather, it became the long goodbye.

Commons stayed on at Celtic after that afternoon. Detente was reached between himself and the club after they had haggled for an age over a new deal, the contract signed within a matter of weeks and calmness, or sorts, restored. In hindsight, it was the beginning of the end for a player who cost Celtic just £300,000 in January 2011 and went on to net 91 goals in 227 appearances.

Such stats – and the manner in which he and his family integrated themselves into the culture of the club – made Commons one of the iconic names in recent years at Celtic. And yet, there has been a looming inevitability about the way he has almost sneaked out of the back door last week.

The emergency loan deal that will take the former Scotland internationalist to Easter Road is initially set to last for only a month but few would expect to see Commons don the Hoops again; the writing seemed to be on the wall for Commons almost as soon as Brendan Rodgers emerged into the club.

When Celtic qualified for the Uefa Champions League this summer after a three-year hiatus from Europe’s premier competition, Commons’ exclusion from the club’s squad list told its own surplus to requirements story.

Indeed, the 33-year-old has not played a full 90 minutes for Celtic for almost a full calendar year; a 4-1 win at Tannadice in January was the last time he played from start to finish. He has not played a competitive game for Celtic this season but remains one of the higher earners at the club.

There was always a suspicion of an unease between the midfielder and Ronny Deila’s regime, after he failed to truly remain at the forefront in the same way he had under Neil Lennon, whom he will now re-join at Hibernian. That was encapsulated publicly on a harrowing night for the club against Molde when a 3-1 defeat in torrential rain essentially put paid to their Europa League hopes.

Commons, who had scored the only goal of the game, was substituted and reacted furiously, giving out to the Celtic bench as Deila looked on and the travelling support chanted the midfielder’s name. The public spat did not diminish Commons’ placing among the Celtic fans who felt the player shared their frustrations at the lack of fluency and organisation in the Parkhead side.

It was not the only time Commons was outspoken with his criticisms. When Juventus beat Celtic 3-0 at Celtic Park in the Uefa Champions league knockout stages in 2013, he broke dressing room protocol with a scathing mixed zone assessment of Efe Ambrose’s performance. The Nigerian defender had arrived back in Glasgow on the morning of the match after being on duty at Africa Cup of Nations, but was included by Lennon in Celtic's team after insisting he felt fit to play.

Ambrose gifted Alessandro Matri an early goal, missed Celtic's best chance of the night when he sent a free header straight at Gianluigi Buffon from six yards and then lost possession to allow Mirko Vucinic to claim a late third and effectively send Juventus into the quarter-finals.

He was not forgiven by Commons. “Look, the manager picked him,” he said afterwards. “The manager pulled him to one side and asked him if he was feeling OK. He said he was feeling brilliant. If he wasn't feeling OK then he should have said so. If he felt good then he should have put in a better performance."

Straight-forward, candid and as direct on the pitch as he was off it, Commons was a massive success for Celtic. Player of the Year and the Scottish Football Writers’ Play of the Year in season 2013/14, a year in which he netted an astonishing 32 goals for the club in 46 appearances, Commons was one of the big hitters at the club but there has been a steady gap between the player and the club building over the last 12 months.

Fitting then, that his final appearance for the club should come at Tynecastle last April. On as Celtic ran down the seconds on the day in which they effectively clinched their fifth successive title with a 3-1 win over Hearts, Commons’ part was reduced to little more than a statistical footnote but few would have anticipated that he would not pull on the shirt again.

Celtic fans would have loved him to join the 100-club; they would have settled for giving him an appreciative send-off. Neither look likely.