Former Celtic striker Charlie Nicholas has been left surprised with the decision of Hoops manager Neil Lennon to let go of Jonny Hayes and Jozo Simunovic following the expiration of their contracts.
The Parkhead outfit are looking to make necessary squad changes ahead of next season’s 10-in-a-row bid, and Nicholas thinks the trio of Boli Bolingoli, Olivier Ntcham and Vakoun Bayo should be the ones to be shown the exit instead.
The Sky Sports pundit has urged Celtic to sell the Frenchman in order to fund a permanent move for Southampton goalkeeper Fraser Forster if need be.
“Celtic must pull out all the stops to sign Fraser Forster – even if it means making him the club’s highest earner. And if Olivier Ntcham has to be sold to finance the deal, then they should do it. Southampton pay Forster around £70,000 per week but I’m sure there’s a deal to be done because the Premier League club are keen to cut their wage bill,” Nicholas wrote in his Daily Express column (via The Scottish Sun)
“But Celtic need only look at the 32-year-old’s importance to them in the past season. He proved in the big games that he is a match winner. I’d offload Ntcham. I don’t see him begging to stay as he isn’t a regular starter.
“Boli Bolingoli should also be sold and I would get rid of Vakoun Issouf Bayo in a heartbeat, although it would be hard to get much value for these players in the current market. Bolingoli should have been out the door instead of his left-back rival Jonny Hayes. The Irishman’s departure was a strange one. I would have given Hayes another contract as it would have been straightforward and within the club’s financial constraints. He can play in a couple of positions and I don’t know why Lennon let him leave.
“I am surprised at some of the players who have been released, not least Jozo Simunovic. Celtic supposedly knocked back a £3million bid for the Croatian defender a few years ago – and now they’ve let him leave for nothing rather than take up the option in his contract.”
Forster played a key role as Celtic secured a ninth consecutive Scottish Premiership title, featuring in 32 games across all competitions.
The Hoops need him back for next season’s challenge given his huge quality, and it will be interesting to see if they will make the necessary move.
Southampton are reportedly open to letting the English goalkeeper join Celtic permanently if they can get Ntcham in exchange, and both clubs could strike a deal this summer.
The midfielder is more than keen to leave Scotland for a more competitive league, and the Saints manager Ralph Hasenhuttl reckons he could be the perfect replacement for the want-away Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.