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Thread: U23 Players 2020-21

  1. #261
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    Quote Originally Posted by Olé Olé View Post
    Kevin Zefi looking bound for Inter:
    https://amp.independent.ie/sport/soc...mpression=true
    Interesting move - this part of The Examiner's report caught my eye:

    It’s understood the young gem has relatives living in Milan and will be initially joined in Italy by his parents, who are both Albanian-born.
    Could be a double-edged sword for us - on one side, it should help prevent the homesickness that sometimes affects young lads who go to England - on the other hand, they might start to influence his choice of international representation.

  2. #262
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    Quote Originally Posted by Olé Olé View Post
    Kevin Zefi looking bound for Inter:
    https://amp.independent.ie/sport/soc...mpression=true
    I'm a bit wary of it. Italian football is probably the least youth driven of the big 5 leagues. Even look at the inter squad right now:

    Handanovic 36
    Sanchez 32
    Kolorov 35
    Ranocchia 32
    Perisic 31
    Young 35
    Vidal 33
    Padelli 35
    D'Ambrosio 32
    Darmian 31

    That's basically half the squad over 30 - meanwhile all of their young players (4 aged 24 and under) were big money signings:

    Hakimi 22 (40m for Real)
    Martinez 23 (23m from Racing Club)
    Barella 23 (37-50m from Cagliari)
    Bastoni 21 (31m from Atalanta)


    Plenty of English kids with good pedigree have gone to Italy and really struggled, most recent example being Bobby Duncan who left Liverpool for Fiorentina and is now playing for Derby's reserves. Can't think of any major guys to break from the inter youth team since Balotelli and Davide Santon. Years and years of loans are the norm in italy, that and co-ownership. Inter currently have 29 players out on loan.

    Anyway, I'm sure Stephen Carr and his family have a better picture of the situation than I do, but Zefi is the outstanding talent from the 2005 age group and hopefully it's not a mistake...

  3. #263
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    Quote Originally Posted by samhaydenjr View Post
    on the other hand, they might start to influence his choice of international representation.
    think the fact that Stephen Carr is representing him should be a good thing in that respect...

  4. #264
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    Ah, the lad was born and bred in Dublin and it says his parents are joining him in Milan "initially"- they might move back to Ireland quite soon after, particularly when the pandemic subsides. Further, his alternative is Albania who are not a super power. And Rudi Vata spoke recently about how the Albanian FA weren't very proactive as regards his son that lined out for us, Rocco.

  5. #265
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    Celtic reported to be interested in adding another young Irish player to their already lengthy list of young Irish players they don't seem to be capable of developing - Sinclair Armstrong from QPR. As he is out of contract in the summer and it would be an "international" transfer they could get him for free. Possibly some EPL interest also but those clubs would have to pay a development fee.

    Seems strange that QPR signed him on such a short contract, he only joined them last autumn.
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  6. #266
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eirambler View Post
    Celtic reported to be interested in adding another young Irish player to their already lengthy list of young Irish players they don't seem to be capable of developing - Sinclair Armstrong from QPR. As he is out of contract in the summer and it would be an "international" transfer they could get him for free. Possibly some EPL interest also but those clubs would have to pay a development fee.

    Seems strange that QPR signed him on such a short contract, he only joined them last autumn.
    He had to move before January to get in before Brexit so I assume he was able to insist on a one-year and then assess his options.

  7. #267
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    https://theathletic.com/2326992/2021...-get-a-chance/

    One fragile silver lining from this relentlessly overcast season was the hope that Dubai-gate might pave the way for some young players to enjoy some first-team minutes. With 13 senior players self-isolating for the Hibernian and Livingston games, there was optimism that enforced opportunities for Celtic’s bright young things might inject some freshness into watching Celtic’s performances — even if that didn’t necessarily extend to earning three points.
    In the end, fans got the worst of both worlds. Celtic started predominantly squad players, with Cameron Harper the only academy player to make his starting debut across both games. Fans are left in the dark over the quality of these young players and have endured two utterly turgid performances — and the team failed to win either game.
    For Wednesday’s visit to Livingston, after all previously self-isolating players had returned to training — except the anonymous second player to have tested positive for COVID-19 — it was effectively as you were. The only academy player who started the 2-2 draw — Celtic’s third point from four matches — was 27-year-old Callum McGregor.
    Some of the academy’s brightest prospects are on the verge of leaving. Others have already left.
    Given the lack of opportunities, which young players at the club have made enough of an impression to suggest they will contribute to Celtic’s rebuilding project?
    Because Celtic do need to start considering which players are likely to be at the club next season. The league is done, and there’s the possibility the Scottish Cup might well be suspended until next season given COVID-19’s continuing impact on all four SPFL tiers. In a crisis, a bittersweet window of opportunity has presented itself to Celtic: four effectively pressure-free months to develop the side before the summer.
    Odsonne Edouard has one year left on his deal and last week signed up to the player agency Stellar, who looked after Kieran Tierney’s move to Arsenal. Olivier Ntcham, Ryan Christie and Kristoffer Ajer also only have one year left on their deals and at least some of them will leave over the next two windows.
    Diego Laxalt, Moi Elyounoussi and Shane Duffy will all return to their parent clubs before the start of next season. Tom Rogic, who also joined Stellar last summer, might leave this window or next given his lack of games and the attractiveness of his Australian passport for Asian sides, where he doesn’t qualify as a foreign player for their Champions League. Jeremie Frimpong is drawing a great deal of attention across Europe at the moment.
    Even some of the most highly-rated development players could be about to leave; Harper is close to signing a pre-contract with New York Red Bulls, while it’s highly likely that Karamoko Dembele will soon sign a pre-contract elsewhere.
    Dembele, 17, and Harper, 19, are probably the two highest-rated attacking players from this youth team generation. With all four of Celtic’s first-team strikers self-isolating, it was Harper to whom Celtic’s management team turned to partner Mikey Johnston upfront against Hibs, and it was Dembele who was subbed on later in the game as a forward.


    Neither particularly impressed, with Harper in particular not looking ready for the intensity and physicality of senior football. Although Celtic wouldn’t feel the impact of their departures in the short team, it would continue the barren run of attacking talent emerging from the academy. Johnston is arguably the only real player of note across the front three positions since James Forrest’s breakthrough in 2010.
    Much the same applies to Armstrong Okoflex, 18, who was subbed on in both games. His contract is also up this summer, similarly to Harper and Dembele, although the hype around his potential has diminished since he joined from Arsenal in 2018, and it’s understood he isn’t quite held in the same regard as the other two. He doesn’t look ready to make a first-team impression at any rate.
    Scott Robertson is widely considered to be one of the best players of this development team cycle, and the seamlessness with which the 19-year-old has adapted to the physical rigours of English League One football with Gillingham suggests he’d be capable of continuing that transition into senior football with Celtic.
    The decision to recall him on the day of the Hibs game felt counterproductive at the time. That he didn’t play a single minute against Livingston confirmed that feeling. Why halt his development at Gillingham if it was working? Was this a coaching team decision, or a boardroom decision? Not for the first time, it’s felt like a short-term decision to help address an immediate first-team concern.
    The best-case scenario for Robertson is he returns on loan to Gillingham to maintain his development and return to challenge for Celtic’s first team in the summer. However, there’s always the possibility that he might be loaned out elsewhere to a team where he doesn’t settle as well as he did at Gillingham, or Celtic keep him for the remainder of the season and he doesn’t play competitive football.
    From watching him and from discussions with sources within the club, he looks to be the youth-team player best-equipped, physically and technically, to make the first-team grade at Celtic. Ewan Henderson, 20, and Luca Connell, 19, nominally enter discussions around midfield prospects, but neither featured in the recent games. The hopes pinned on them aren’t as huge as the ones on Robertson.
    Finally, there’s Stephen Welsh, who it could be argued is the young player who would most benefit from an extended run in the team for the rest of this season, especially if Robertson goes back on loan.
    Welsh, 21, hasn’t been well-served so far in 2020-21. He was dropped in at the deep end, making his first starts of the season in the first Rangers game back in October and five days later against AC Milan. He was played in an uncomfortable back three, and played poorly, but it was a huge demand for him to perform in such circumstances in Celtic’s most challenging fixtures of the season at that point. He barely featured again until against Hibs, where he looked relatively assured for the most part.
    To reward that composure, he was dropped for Nir Bitton against Livingston, who’s been poor for most of this season and facilitated Celtic’s capitulation against Rangers before the Dubai trip with his daft sending-off. Duffy, who has also been poor this season and is on loan from Brighton & Hove Albion, kept his place.
    Given that Duffy and Ajer are probably not going to be at Celtic next season, it might be shrewd to give Welsh more opportunities. If it becomes clear that he isn’t good enough to be a starting centre-back in the long term, then at least he’s proved that on his terms. That isn’t to say Celtic shouldn’t sign another centre-back this window — particularly one of a profile in view of ultimately replacing Ajer — but giving Welsh minutes might be more fruitful than bringing in another expensive loan when there’s little to play for.
    Jonathan Afolabi and Lee O’Connor — on loan at Dundee and Tranmere Rovers respectively — are having respectable if unspectacular seasons themselves and will be reassessed come the summer. There are others in the under-18s, such as 18-year-old Ewan Otoo and Norwegian 17-year-old Leo Hjelde, who sources rate fairly highly, but are still some way off being ready for senior football. Being brutally honest, losing the likes of Harper and Dembele — and also under-18s players Barry Hepburn, Liam Morrison and Josh Adam over the past 18 months — thins the ranks of prospects who have the potential to become key Celtic players over the next few years.
    In a season that has prompted totemic doubts over many of the club’s departments and institutions, the past fortnight in particular has underlined issues within Celtic’s academy set-up, and in the transition from the development squad to the first team.
    Given the amount of investment in the academy infrastructure over the past 10-15 years — from the introduction of the youth and development squads at Lennoxtown to the partnership with St Ninian’s High School Kirkintilloch — it is concerning that arguably only three players have either been clear starting XI quality or moved on to bigger things.
    Last edited by Olé Olé; 21/01/2021 at 2:58 PM.

  8. #268
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    Continued:

    Forrest, McGregor and Tierney are the three success stories. Johnston has the talent but needs to avoid injuries and maintain some consistency before even entering that conversation, and although Liverpool’s Andrew Robertson is obviously a terrific player, it’d take a brass neck to take any credit for his career given he was let go for being too small when he was with the under-15s.
    Consistently producing academy players capable of stepping up to the first team is a more complicated equation than “greater investment + better coaching infrastructure = better players”, but there needs to be a reckoning with the academy’s production line.
    That some of the best players of the current under-18s generation are leaving the club is equally a concern. Morrison and Hepburn both joined Bayern Munich, with Morrison citing a clearly presented pathway to the first team as one of his biggest incentives for joining. Adam left Celtic to join Manchester City. Clubs of Bayern and City’s stature will always hold an appeal, but The Athletic understands that the level of attention to detail shown in their burgeoning careers was as influential to their decision — if not more so — than the pure reputation of the clubs. This is compounded by erratic transitions into the first team for older players, such as Welsh.
    However, this is a problem not only for the club’s self-image as a promoter of youth with a flourishing academy. There’s also a strategic impasse between the club’s recruitment policy and the coaches’ player profile preferences. Everyone recognises Celtic’s “moneyball” strategy — recruiting young players with high sell-on potential at low prices — but this only works if they’re actually provided pathways to the first team. Time and resources must be spent to develop them into players who can contribute to success on the pitch before producing a profit after a few seasons.
    Why did Celtic dedicate so many resources in 2019 to recruiting the likes of Frimpong, O’Connor, Afolabi and Connell only for them to be stockpiled (unless they were as unexpectedly prodigious as Frimpong)? Is the recruitment itself the problem, so the players simply aren’t good enough? Or is it a coaching issue? Or is it neither (or both) departments’ fault, and it’s simply down to a lack of communication over an overarching vision for how Celtic progresses as a club?
    Ismaila Soro and David Turnbull have been beacons of excitement in the slog, but they alone can’t form a spine for this team’s next cycle. If any academy players or “moneyball” players are to join Turnbull and Soro in this new era, then there arguably needs to be greater attention paid to how Celtic integrate and promote youth. Otherwise, there could well be a lost generation.

  9. #269
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    Good article - essentially echoes what we have been saying here for the last year or more.

    There is no development pathway at Celtic, because there is no development of players. How can any young player who joins the underage structure there improve when there is no development league for the team to play in, no realistic competition for them at their age group in the country beyond their equivalents at Rangers?

    That's why someone like Oko-flex or Connell is wasting their time. Oko-Flex was a highly rated talent leaving Arsenal but he doesn't seem to have developed at all since going to Celtic. Connell has gone from being the best player in an admittedly poor Championship side to not playing any senior football for two years.

    At best these players have lost years of development at a crucial age and will reach their potential at a later age as a result. At worst the damage is already done and they may never now make it in the game at any full time professional level.

    The only hope is that in future young Irish players are better advised when choosing their overseas clubs.
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  10. #270
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    Evan Ferguson in the starting XI for Brighton's U23 side tonight with James Furlong, currently 2-0 down to Arsenal's U23s who have Mazeed Ogungbo on the bench

  11. #271
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    Tyreek Wright on his first start for Walsall has got an assist.

  12. #272
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    Ciaran Brennan is starting right back tonight for Sheff Wednesday against Everton. Go well.

    Edit: There's a young lad called Ryan Patrick Francis Galvin playing left back...
    Last edited by Olé Olé; 24/01/2021 at 7:37 PM.

  13. #273
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    Into the last week of the transfer window again and once again there are a few Irish players that could really do with loan moves. I suppose them going anywhere is dependent on clubs actually being willing to take them on though.

    Conor Coventry
    Gavin Kilkenny
    Jimmy Dunne
    Luca Connell
    Will Ferry
    Mark Sykes
    Jamie Bowden
    Adam O'Reilly
    Lewis Richards

    would be among those that could benefit from playing some first team football I think. Dunne the most likely of those to get a loan move but hopefully one or two more will move also.

    Would also like to see Joe Hodge go on loan, he's young but quite a few in his age group at Man City have gone on loan this season already.

    Also I see Dundee have brought in an experienced forward today, Jason Cummings who has scored a lot of goals in that division previously. Afolabi was already struggling for minutes so that won't help him.
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  14. #274
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    Barry Coffey has signed on loan for Cliftonville. Another victim of the Celtic youth development programme unfortunately.
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  15. #275
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eirambler View Post
    Barry Coffey has signed on loan for Cliftonville. Another victim of the Celtic youth development programme unfortunately.
    Interesting move for a lad from Tipp.

  16. #276
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    There seems to be a few going north at the moment as leagues are continuing up there for now. I never like seeing any of our up and coming younger players joining semi professional teams to be honest, although it has been clear for a while that things were unlikely to work out for Coffey at a high level.
    Last edited by Eirambler; 30/01/2021 at 10:37 AM.
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  17. #277
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    Decent young player, Coffey. Will probably not quite make it to be an international, end up maybe in league 1. But was more impressive for the 19s than I would have expected him to be

  18. #278
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    There still seems to be some talk of Parrott being recalled by Spurs before the window closes - but only if they can find another loan for him elsewhere. Possibly he might generate some interest from League 1 clubs (somewhere like Rochdale or Swindon with BBM and Sheridan managing) or maybe in Scotland (Goodwin at St. Mirren maybe). Alternatively the Netherlands might be an option, subject to any current travel restrictions.

    I would be of the view that everyone involved should have learned that he is not yet ready for Championship football and a loan at a lower level would be more beneficial for his development.
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  19. #279
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    Its squeaky bum time another loan failure would be a disaster so needs to choose very wisely. I like the should on Belgium or Holland

  20. #280
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    Barry Coffey to Cliftonville is a bad sign re: his future at Celtic.

    To be frank if they are allowing him to drop to that level then then they don’t see one for him.

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