Celtic win Scottish Premiership title: What next for Brendan Rodgers and the champions? | Football News

Celtic have secured their third successive Premiership title and are just one win away from doing the double, but what is next for Brendan Rodgers and the Scottish champions?

Rodgers’ shock return to Celtic last summer didn’t go down well with some supporters, due to the way he left for Leicester City in 2019. But he stood on the steps outside Celtic Park in June last year and addressed the fans with a simple, yet bold, message: “For those who I need to convince, I will see you here in May.”

It is May and Rodgers has continued the pattern of unprecedented success. Celtic have now won 18 out of 24 titles in the 21st century – the 54th in the club’s illustrious history. In the same period, they’ve also won 10 League Cups and 11 Scottish Cups – with a final still to play against Rangers.

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A look at some of the best goals Celtic scored this season as they clinched a third successive Scottish Premiership title

This Hoops side have also gone unbeaten against their Glasgow rivals in their four league matches this season – winning three of them.

Domestically, there is no doubt Celtic will be aiming to continue and add to their dominance. But outwith the bread and butter of the Scottish Premiership, what are the club’s and Rodgers’ priorities for the summer and next season?

Champions League change

Next season's Scottish Premiership winner will face one qualification round to enter the Champions League, with three qualifiers facing the runners-up
Celtic will enter a revamped Champions League next season

The European landscape is changing this year. The Champions League as we know it, is no more. It will be one big league of 36 teams, before moving into a knockout phase – and Celtic will be part of it.

In the league phase they will play one-off matches against eight teams – four at home and four away, between September and January. The top eight teams in the league will progress to the last 16. Teams finishing between ninth and 24th will enter a play-off round of two legs, with the eight winners progressing to the last 16. The bottom 12 league teams – and the play-off losers – will go out, with no drop-down to the Europa League.

Celtic see this new Champions League format – and the riches that come with it – as a huge potential for growth in terms of modern-day stature and competitiveness. The prize money and increased TV and matchday revenue could add up to around £60m just for playing in the league phase of the competition.

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The Hoops will be targeting the play-offs which could see Celtic have at least 10 games in the Champions League, up until February. At the very minimum they will play eight. The pitch to sell the club to players gains more weight if they’re able to say a fifth of their season will be Champions League football. Plus, they’ll have more money available to put towards fees, wages and add-ons. That’s where the potential for growth lies – it could put Celtic on more of a level playing field with similar ranked clubs in Europe.

However, Celtic’s record in Europe of late – especially in the Champions League – has not been great. This campaign saw just one win in the group stage, a victory over Feyenoord in a dead-rubber at Celtic Park.

Luis Palma fired Celtic in front from the penalty spot
Celtic finished bottom of their Champions League group after a win against Feyenoord and draw against Atletico Madrid

Domestic dominance is all well and good, but the fans are craving a competitive Celtic on the European stage. It’ll be interesting to see how the new format affects Celtic’s competitiveness in the competition and it’s a challenge Rodgers and the fans should relish.

Could big stars leave this summer?

Celtic's Reo Hatate (left) and Matt O'Riley could attract interest this summer
Celtic’s Reo Hatate (left) and Matt O’Riley could attract interest this summer

Rodgers will be hoping to keep hold of most of his prized assets. He won’t want another season of surprise departures which he faced this term with Jota, Carl Starfelt and Liel Abada all moving on in unforeseen circumstances.

Celtic stars Matt O’Riley, Cameron Carter-Vickers and Reo Hatate are all being monitored by a number of clubs in the English Premier League and across Europe.

The Hoops knocked back a bid worth around £20m from Atletico Madrid for O’Riley in January. After a sensational season, it is looking more likely that the Denmark international will leave this summer, but Celtic will be looking for a club record transfer. Girona, Inter Milan and top-six Premier League clubs are all among the interested parties.

Matt O'Riley won Celtic's player of the year and players' player of the year and young player of the year awards
O’Riley won Celtic’s Player of the Year, Players’ Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year awards

O’Riley will be on show at the Euros for Denmark, who are in England’s group, which could also drive up his value, if he impresses in Germany – and isn’t snapped up before. Celtic remain in a strong position to hold out for the right fee, as O’Riley signed a new bumper four-year contract in September last year.

Carter-Vickers has had another solid season, despite a couple of injuries. There has been reported interest from West Ham United and other clubs in Europe, but there have been no concrete bids. It’s understood the USA international is happy at the club, having just signed a new contract until the summer of 2029 earlier this year.

Celtic's Cameron Carter-Vickers has had injury issues this season
Celtic’s Cameron Carter-Vickers has had injury issues this season

Much of Hatate’s season has been hampered by injury, but there is no doubt Celtic are a better and more creative side with him in the team. He also signed a new contract, so the champions are in a strong position to keep hold of him, or to hold out for a decent figure should clubs come calling. His exclusion from Japan’s Asian Cup squad was a blow and his desire to get back into the fold could dictate how he sees his own future.

Other outgoings will be important to trim the squad. The likes of James McCarthy, Gustaf Lagerbielke, Sead Haksabanovic, Mikey Johnston and Yuki Kobayashi will be allowed to move on if clubs come in for them. A decision will also be made on Stephen Welsh, who has attracted a lot of interest from Italy, France and Germany over the years, but Celtic have kept him as back-up after he signed a new contract until the summer of 2027.

Where should Celtic strengthen?

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - APRIL 20: Celtic's Joe Hart during a Scottish Gas Scottish Cup semi-final match between Aberdeen and Celtic at Hampden Park, on April 20, 2024, in Glasgow, Scotland.  (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)
Who will replace Joe Hart at Celtic after his decision to retire?

In terms of incomings, it may feel like a bit of deja vu for Celtic fans as the club heads into its third transfer window looking to strengthen in three priority areas – goalkeeper, left-back and striker.

Joe Hart will retire in the summer at the age of 37. He’s been a good servant to the club and a popular figure among the Hoops faithful. However, even if he wasn’t retiring, the need to upgrade would’ve been required. Celtic had previously been looking in the market of back-ups from the elite and it may well be something they explore again.

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Rodgers says Celtic may need to sign more than one goalkeeper this summer after Hart’s retirement

A new shortlist for goalkeepers will be drawn up ahead of the summer transfer window as the Hoops will look to identify targets early on. During this season, there’s been reported interest in Caoimhin Kelleher at Liverpool and Real Madrid’s Andriy Lunin while the club have also been monitoring the likes of Aston Villa keeper Viljami Sinisalo and Motherwell’s Liam Kelly. In the case of Kelleher, he may have well played himself into a first-choice role at another Premier League club. Therefore, his price tag will have increased and may be out of Celtic’s range now.

The need for a left-back is apparent with Greg Taylor now having no competition for his place in the starting line-up. Alexandro Bernabei is on loan at Brazilian club Internacional until the end of December, so this will be a key position to fill.

Celtic defender Greg Taylor
Will there be competition for Celtic defender Greg Taylor next season?

Adam Idah’s loan from Norwich City appears to have been a success, but Celtic have no option-to-buy clause in the deal. Other clubs in the English Championship and Serie A are also keen on the player, which could also drive up his value. But if it’s not Idah, Celtic will be on the lookout for a striker to provide serious competition – and offer something different – to Kyogo.

If O’Riley leaves, the club will need to make a decision about entering the market for a central midfielder too. They have an option-to-buy in the region of £6m in the loan deal with Benfica for Paulo Bernardo. A decision on whether to trigger that will be made in June.

A style of play

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Rodgers discusses why he held an off-record meeting to highlight claims Celtic’s style and tactics have changed under him following Ange Postecoglou’s exit

Under Ange Postecoglou, Celtic had a clear identity and style of play. It was a relentless wave after wave of attack. They blew teams away – often in the first half. It was the most enjoyable football that any Celtic fan had witnessed in the modern era. So, it was always going to be difficult for whoever followed that.

Rodgers has returned the team to the more patient, possession-based style but some argue the squad lacks a clear identity of how they play – and have quite often relied on individual brilliance and moments to win games.

While some teams have at times managed to stifle and frustrate Celtic – it should be noted that Rodgers has had to deal with a lot of injuries throughout the season and he’s had to rejig and shuffle the squad a lot more than he might have liked.

With the likes of Hatate, Carter-Vickers, Callum McGregor and co all back fit – it is no coincidence Celtic’s form has been relentless since April when Rodgers has had his first XI to pick from.

Going forward, a high priority for the Northern Irishman will be to build a squad with a clear identity that can consistently play to the level required for winning in Scotland and competing in Europe. While he does prefer possession football, he will be wanting a more attacking and ruthless style of it.

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