Celtic have strengthened themselves across the pitch, but they need to find a long-term successor for veteran Joe Hart between the sticks. While the likes of Benjamin Siegrist and Scott Bain have failed to claim first-team status, the Hoops must work on Vasilis Barkas’ valuation once he returns from his Utrecht loan upon the completion of the current campaign.
The Greek custodian was roped in from AEK Athens for a fee of around £4.5m. The expectations were sky-high given his reputation back in the homeland. However, a dreadful run of form cost him his place under the-then boss Neil Lennon. Ange Postecoglou could not rely on him either and the arrival of Hart saw him slipping down the pecking order.
Meanwhile, the forgotten Bhoys keeper has revived his form in the Eredivisie with 8 clean sheets so far in 24 appearances across competitions. Utrecht are delighted to have him in goal, but the club’s technical director Jordy Zuidam has explained (as quoted by the Daily Record) why it is not possible to retain his services beyond the 2022-23 season.
“We have to talk about realistic purchase options. A club like FC Utrecht, which cannot afford huge transfer amounts, has to be creative. By loaning players first, we buy time. Vasilis Barkas will return to Celtic and he is too expensive for FC Utrecht.”
What Should Celtic Do?
The Celts should prefer a summer exit for Barkas rather than losing him for nothing next year. But they must not expect any astronomical figure considering his unsuccessful stint in Celtic colours. Time is ticking and the Glasgow giants could only recoup some chunk of the amount that they invested in the 28-year-old back in the summer of 2020. His form with Utrecht would allow them some scope for negotiation, but they must not become overambitious unless his contract gets renewed in due course of time.
Nevertheless, the champions of Scotland must find a younger name who would secure the ‘number 1’ role in the long run. Hart has so far featured 88 times, however, the 35-year-old shot-stopper is past his prime despite conceding the least number of goals in the Premiership. His unsteadiness while claiming crosses and long balls often resulted in chaos and instability inside the box, and the Bhoys, therefore, should rope in someone who would help them overcome defensive frailty and improve European form after years of disappointment and humiliation.