It is fair to say that David Turnbull’s move to Celtic from Motherwell hasn’t quite panned out the way either the player or the club would ultimately have wanted. That is not to say though that it has been a failure.

With six months left on his contract, Turnbull is reportedly in talks with English Championship outfit Cardiff City, with Celtic cutting their losses on the £3.25m investment they made in the attacking midfielder back in August 2020.

It was a move delayed by a year due to the discovery of a knee issue during his medical, the initial collapse of the transfer devastating the player at the time. His resilience to claw his way back following an operation to star for Motherwell once again was admirable, and the fact that Celtic waited on him was a show of faith in the player they were sure they were getting.

READ MORE: Reason for delay over David Turnbull Celtic deal explained

After 31 goals in 133 appearances for the club in all competitions though, he looks likely to move on to pastures new, and while his loss may be lamented in some quarters, it will not be widely mourned by the Celtic support as a whole.

For some reason, there was never really a connection established between Turnbull and the Celtic crowd. An introvert by nature, he has always preferred to allow his football to do the talking, but he couldn’t resist a barbed celebration earlier this season after a cracking strike against St Mirren, placing his fingers in his ears as a riposte to his critics within his own club’s fanbase.

There has long been a theory that young Scots have a harder time winning over the Celtic Park faithful than perhaps foreign imports do, and the likes of Callum McGregor, James Forrest and more recently, Greg Taylor, would testify that there is some truth to it. Kieran Tierney has been perhaps the only exception to the rule.

Dig a little deeper though and it is clear that the seeds of doubt around Turnbull’s suitability for Celtic were sewn around the time of the Ange Postecoglou revolution. The Australian was a big fan of ‘The Bull’ – as he called him – and lauded his technical ability, but with his preference for taking touches when on the ball and with his tendency to slow down the play, he looked an ill fit for the high energy pressing game and speedy transitions that are the cornerstone of Postecoglou’s footballing philosophy.

His goals and assists return remained quite impressive, particularly given how frequently he was utilised from the bench, but the feeling that this was a good player who was simply in the wrong movie has been one he has never quite managed to shake to this day.

It appeared as though the return of Brendan Rodgers to the club in the summer may give Turnbull a fresh opportunity, and in the early days of the season, he was even preferred to Reo Hatate in midfield on occasion.

“For us, David is a player we would like to keep, so it is not us here on the club side,” Rodgers said back in November.

“He has to do what he thinks is right for himself. At this moment in time, he is still in the last year of his contract.

“[He’s] still young but I think when you get to that age, you do want to play, and be a starter.

“But if you want to be a starter at Celtic, it is that intensity and ambition you need to show, every game you play.

“There is no doubt he is a talented player. You see his goal [against St Mirren] - there are not many can score goals of that quality.

“I really like David. He is a good guy, has good size, he moves when he wants to move, good technique. And he scores goals.”

There was a promising start this term with an opening day double against Ross County, but a poor follow-up performance at Pittodrie, where he was replaced by Hatate at half time, had his doubters out in force again. Particularly when Hatate affected the play so starkly in the 25 minutes or so he was involved before succumbing to an injury.

Despite finding the net seven times during the campaign, he flitted in and out of the side as he has done for much of his Celtic career, and the recent emergence of Paulo Bernardo alongside the immovable objects of McGregor and Matt O’Riley – as well as the impending return of Hatate – means that a parting of the ways and a fresh start is probably best for all parties.

That shouldn’t put Celtic off investing in young Scottish players in future though. They got far more bang for their buck in the contribution of Turnbull than they have from a similar level of investment in numerous foreign imports over his time at the club, while the oft-maligned Taylor has deservedly nailed down the left back slot ahead of the relatively big-money signing of Alexandro Bernabei.

Turnbull is a hugely gifted player who will hopefully now go on and find a team that can accommodate his skillset, and fulfil the potential that he has always had to become a star performer for both club and perhaps eventually country.

READ MORE: David Turnbull on THAT celebration and his Celtic future

That it hasn’t quite worked out for him at Celtic doesn’t mean that either the player or the club are to blame. His professionalism has never been in question, while the club have given him an opportunity to perform on a huge stage and against Europe’s best in the Champions League.

Only Motherwell may be slightly miffed that they won’t benefit from the sell-on clause they had tacked on to the deal when they sold him to Celtic, but they did alright out of the midfielder as well in the end.

All in all, a little step back to take a step forward now looks to be in Turnbull’s best interests, but neither he nor Celtic should have any regrets about taking the chance.