With Celtic’s title hopes fading with every week, there has been plenty of talk about a summer rebuild at Parkhead. We’re likely to see a changing of the guard with loanees returning to their parent clubs and a couple of big names are likely to move on at the end of the season.
That means there could be places up for grabs for players who have so far struggled to make an impression in the starting XI, and there will be a few who have been sent out on loan that will be hoping to nail down a place upon their return to Glasgow.
Here, and Times Sport examines how the Celtic loanees performed over the weekend.
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Olivier Ntcham (Marseille) – 2 appearances, 0 goals
The French midfielder departed Glasgow last month to return to his homeland, and he might well be there to stay after Marseille included a clause in the deal that allows them to sign the 25-year-old for a predetermined fee at the end of his loan spell.
Ntcham clambered off the bench last week to make his debut in the French Cup against AJ Auxerre. The game was goalless at half-time before Ntcham’s introduction and they went on to win 2-0, but the former Manchester City player didn’t have a hand in either goal.
His Ligue 1 debut arrived on Sunday evening against Bordeaux and once again, Ntcham had to make do with a cameo appearance off the bench. The midfielder watched on as first defender Leonardo Balerdi and then striker Dario Benedetto were sent off in the space of five minutes, with Ntcham then being brought on to see out the game. Remarkably, despite playing with nine men for half an hour, they held on for a 0-0.
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Boli Bolingoli (Istanbul Basaksehir) – 12 appearances, 0 goals
The Celtic outcast was shipped off to Turkey after breaching Covid-19 protocols and got off to a solid start at Basaksehir, playing in all six of their Champions League group stage fixtures and quickly nailing down a starting berth at left-back.
But the defender hasn’t kicked a ball since November after an initial niggle kept him out of action for a couple of games. A knee injury followed and he remains sidelined for the foreseeable.
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Jack Hendry (KV Oostende) – 19 appearances, 2 goals
The centre-half has enjoyed a new lease of life since making the switch to Belgium last summer and is growing in confidence with every passing game. Playing in a back three, it appears, has been beneficial for the former Dundee defender.
After starting 17 matches on the spin in the Belgian top flight, Hendry hasn’t featured in Oostende’s last four games in all competitions. They won two and lost two, letting in eight goals along the way, and haven’t kept just one clean sheet since October.
We can expect to see Hendry back in the starting line-up before long and if he impresses, he could make the move a permanent one in the summer. It’s believed Celtic and Oostende have inserted a clause in the deal that allows the Juplier League outfit to sign Hendry for £1.75million once the current loan expires.
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Maryan Shved (KV Mechelen) – 13 appearances, 4 goals
The Ukrainian winger has been on the periphery of the Celtic squad ever since joining from Karpaty Lviv in January 2019 so it was little surprise when, like Hendry, he was shipped out on loan to Belgium for the 2020/21 campaign.
After a slow start at Mechelen – Shved had to make do with a place on the bench most weeks before being handed his first start for the club a month ago – the one-time Sevilla academy player is starting to come into his own in recent weeks.
Since breaking into the starting XI, Shved has picked up three goals and one assist in six starts but he missed Mechelen’s dramatic 2-1 win over Beerschot on Sunday, where his side scored two goals in injury time to seal the three points, with a tendon irritation.
There has been a considerable upturn in Mechelen’s form since Shved started featuring regularly – they’ve picked up 25 points out of the last available 30 in the league – and are now making a unlikely push for Europe, currently sitting in eighth place but just three points off of Genk in third.
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Vakoun Issouf Bayo (Toulouse) – 19 appearances, 5 goals
The Ivorian striker struggled for game-time in Glasgow before being shipped out to the French second tier and despite an encouraging debut (where he scored twice in a 5-3 defeat to Grenoble), Bayo has seen his form tail off.
After his debut, Bayo went over 500 minutes without a goal for Toulouse and slipped down the pecking order, having to make do with getting the last 10 or 15 minutes of games. A goal and an assist against Grenoble a month ago provided a much-needed confidence boost for the forward, but it is in the French Cup where he has shone.
Toulouse – who are currently third in Ligue 2 – recorded a regulation 1-0 win over minnows Chamois Niort in the second round with Bayo getting the game’s only goal, and he went one better in the third round that was played last week.
Despite being handed a tricky away tie against top-flight opposition in the form of Bordeaux, Toulouse pulled off an upset to advance to the next round. Bayo was at the heart of his side’s display, scoring one and setting up another to seal a 2-0 triumph for his side.