What If? Messi | Rules | Transfers | Rangers

There have been many defining moments in Celtic’s history, and many hypothetical scenarios we’re left wondering about. In this feature, we ask our panel of writers for their take on a few of these. I’m Stephen Russell (@SJRussell23) and on the team this week we have Eoin Coyne (@toomanybigwords), Matt Evans (@SkylandsCSC), Ronan Kearney (@Kearney1085) and Sean McGinlay (@seanjmcginlay).

What if you could sign Lionel Messi on loan for just one season but at the cost of Odsonne Edouard?

COYNE: You’d have to take it just to see the best of his generation in the Hoops, heartbreaking as it would be to lose French Eddy. I think the least we can expect here is 50 domestic goals, is he good enough to single handedly drag Celtic to a Champions League win? Probably not, but he’d likely get us out of the group stages. I assume he’d enjoy Glasgow so much that he’d offer to stay and play for free after the loan.

EVANS: This would work out muy pobremente. Sure, Barcelona are kind of a mess right now, and a change of scenery might do Messi a power of good. But Celtic is not the place for a 32-year-old nursing his first bad injury in a long time. Supposing he got healthy, though, he would put in the kind of performances Moussa Dembele was famous for, where he would kind of sleepwalk through Motherwell away but score a hat-trick the next week against Rangers. In Europe, Messi would be good for a wonder goal or three in the group stages and might well be the difference in those pesky late CL qualifiers. In the end, he’d miss a bit of time due to injury and maybe be good for 25 goals in all competitions. It would also give us the peculiar joy of seeing him playing up front with Bayo. As for Eddy, the sky’s the limit wherever he plays. He’d be well missed.

KEARNEY: So let me preface this by saying I love Eddy. Love him. Him and wee hurt paw. And I would never want to see him leave us. But it’s Messi. Yes, it is on loan for a season but I mean what a season that would be. In my lifetime, we have never had anyone close to being the best in the world at that time play for us. Henrik was special and will never be forgotten, but the prospect of Messi lining up at Paradise against the forces of evil from across Glasgow is enough to make even the coldest of Celtic fans light up. It is with the heaviest of hearts that I would say yes, give it to me.

MCGINLAY: I would throw Odsonne Edouard under the first bus that came to snap up Lionel Messi. Imagine being able to get that name on the back of your shirt man. Imagine going into work on a Monday after the bloke has notched 9 away at Dundee. And with the money he would bring in we could sign up every promising French player under the sun.

What if a rule change was implemented into the SPFL where a point was awarded for each instance in which a club won by 3 or more goals?

COYNE: I can’t even imagine the amount of penalties Rangers will get in this scenario. Refs will need bionic fingers for all that spot-pointing. Plankton clubs will enjoy being able to troll us whilst only losing by the odd goal and you just know Craig Levein will love the prospect of shutting up shop at 2-1 down with 15 to go. 

EVANS: Not much would change, I don’t think! Not having the stats to look at, I’m making a guess that the two Glasgow teams are responsible for the majority of batterings being handed out in Scotland, with the odd pumping coming from Hibs or Motherwell. It would definitely widen the secondary gap in the Premiership, between Celtic, Rangers and the rest of the league (the primary gap being between Celtic and Rangers). Further down the table, it’s possible that clubs would go all out for offense, but that wouldn’t necessarily result in as many 4-1s as it would 5-4s. Which would all be very entertaining, but ultimately counterproductive.

KEARNEY: Celtic would win the league by even more points than they currently do. We score the most, we let in the least, we win the most games, we lost the least games. We are class. 

MCGINLAY: If this happened it would not affect anything. Celtic are already above and beyond any other football team in Scotland, Celtic go around handing doings to whoever they want, when they feel like and how they like. It would simply just extend the margin in which Celtic continually pump every other establishment within the Scottish game. We are too good and this would only go to add to that.

What if you were offered £40m on the grounds that Celtic could not sign/sell players or renew contracts for 18 months?

COYNE: Sounds like a Peter Lawell wet-dream – no signings and no new contracts. In theory though we could use it to revamp things like our youth and scouting set ups so we don’t keep getting caught short in the Champions League qualifiers. 

EVANS: A more short-term and slightly different version of this question was asked a couple weeks ago, with regards to no signings in the January window. Due to some very good business towards the end of the summer, my answer was that we could easily pass on January, and promote from within to fill any gaps in the squad – the talent is there to win the league and then some. 18 months, now you’re talking different gravy. The fact that I’m not allowed to sell anyone either at first glance is OK, because you keep the squad together, but the inability to renew contracts means you lose players at key positions. Gordon, Forster, Elyounoussi (who’s gone anyway), Bauer, Sinclair, Bitton and Hayes would leave. Except for Bauer and Bitton, we’ve got cover at those positions. Now how many disco lights does £40m plus earned interest get you?

KEARNEY: No. Way. What do we need 40 million quid for? Nothing. Freshening up of the squad is a must every summer at the very least and taking the ability to do so away from us for the sake of 40 million is not an option. We got over 50 million for Dembers, The Rat and KT and have barely reinvested a quarter of that yet so I am out on this one. Not for me. 

MCGINLAY: Jack Hendry’s contract expires at the end of this season and he is the pinnacle of ability and love for Celtic Football Club. I could never condone letting such an asset leave so it’s a no from me.

What if, after 10 in a row is won or lost, you could choose between Rangers being relegated with us finishing 4th (Aberdeen would win the league) or us winning the league with Rangers finishing in a close second?

COYNE: Gotta take that 11th title in a row. At that point rangers are broken, a relegation is nice but to have them get so, so close and still lose out is so much sweeter. Dangle that hope in their faces then snatch it away at the last second. I also can’t bring myself to like Aberdeen enough to want them to win the league.

EVANS: I anguished over this question and in fact missed the deadline for this piece because I couldn’t figure out the answer. Ten in a row, if we get there, is going to be exhilarating at first, all summer long probably, and then a sense of “Well, what now?” is going to set in. It’s quite likely that no one’s ever going to get there again, in our lifetimes. But having done the ten once, it would be foolish not to at least try to do it twice. So Celtic can cede Aberdeen their first title in nearly 40 years while still enjoying the memory of the Ten Summer, and watching Rangers get relegated in what you know would be comedy fashion is a fantastic consolation prize. The season after that, the quest for the Ten Again begins. 

KEARNEY: I remember sitting in a pub about 10 years listening to two guys argue. One was a Man United fan and the other a Liverpool fan. Charlie Mooney, the Liverpool fan, was asked would he rather Liverpool win the league or United get relegated. 10 years later, I still find his answer incredible. He would take United getting relegated every day he said. What a fucking idiot. I hate Rangers. Hate everything about them. I hate their stupid blue jerseys, the ridiculous wood and marble interiors of Ibrox…Broxi fucking Bear. Hate him. Hate them. But I love us more than I hate them. I don’t want 10 in a row. I want a million in a row. And after I have it, I will still demand investment from the the great-great-great-great grandchild of Lawwell into the team to reach a million and one in a row. Celtic first. Celtic always. 

MCGINLAY: I would choose silverware every time. We don’t even need to bother concerning ourselves with Rangers relegating themselves on the park when at boardroom level they find a way to collapse down the divisions and start again anyway. We already have all of the cards in our hands forever when it comes to our rivals, no matter what happens for decades to come, we will always and they will always know that they allowed their famous, historic football club to die. John Brown on the steps outside, these are all moments that can never be erased, they are engraved. Winning title after title causes them the most pain.

If you have any situations that you’d like to put to our future panels, let us know in the comments below or alternatively on Twitter @90MinuteCynic or @SJRussell23. Thanks for reading.

Despite growing up, and now studying, in England, Celtic have always been a huge part of my life. I first watched the team with my dad; I fell in love and then there was no turning back. Torn between a statistically enhanced footballing style and a good, old-fashioned get-it-in-the-mixer-and-score style.

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