He had just lit up the Championship as Alan Stubbs’ men missed out on promotion to the top-flight via the play-offs and was quite rightly attracting admiring glances from both of Scotland’s top clubs.
If Rangers had any one of their three failed bids accepted then he’d have went straight into Mark Warburton’s team, helped them to the second-tier title and would now be preparing for this weekend’s game as well as at least four games with Celtic from next season onwards.
As it transpired, the Scottish champions swooped in to tie him up on a four-year deal after paying Hibs a reported £275,000.
But he’s failed to make the impact many predicted for him when the summer’s biggest transfer story came to an end.
Allan has made 16 appearances in all competitions under Ronny Deila, with 14 of those coming off the bench. He’s yet to score a goal and has only briefly been able to show the Celtic support why the club stole in to pip their fierce rivals for his signature.
He’s not been seen since starting the 1-1 draw at Hamilton at the end of February – a game which saw Celtic hampered going forward after Dedryck Boyata’s clumsy red card early on.
What makes Allan’s severe lack of action in green and white more surprising is the view of Deila when he signed on at the club (quotes via dailyrecord.co.uk):
“We know he has talent. It is about wanting to sacrifice everything to be the best and have that ability to learn and he was very, very keen to come to Celtic. I have looked at him for a while. He has great talent and the ability to make the final pass and be creative in the last third of the pitch.
“That’s what we need more of in the team and he will get better in our environment. Every player who comes in is competition (for others). It is a high level but we wouldn’t have brought him here if we didn’t think he could reach it.”
Yet everything Allan has done suggests Deila and Celtic don’t believe he’s got the talent and haven’t made him any better in their environment.
What can happen in less than 12 months for the club to deem Allan not even good enough for their matchday squad? What does it say for him or their player development if a Manchester City loanee arrives and slots straight into a position he could occupy?
Kris Commons appears a more legitimate attacking midfield option despite being a player Deila quite obviously hasn’t fully backed since arriving at the club – considering the time it took to get a new contract and how regularly he’s shuffled from the pitch and the bench. He’s continued to play even after his public scalding of the Hoops management in that Molde meltdown last year.
Callum McGregor is another who’s somehow fought his way back into the team despite inconsistent form on the pitch and two driving offences off it. What happened to Deila’s demand for players to be 24-hour athletes?
Even Stuart Armstrong, Tom Rogic, Stefan Johansen and Gary Mackay-Steven have all been given a fair crack of the whip despite suffering spells of form which can only be described as average at best.
And it’s at this point, where both teams gear up for their biggest game of the season, that Allan must really be taking stock of what’s happened in his first season as a Celtic player.
Instead of going into the Hampden clash as one of the key men, he’ll be warming the good seats of the national stadium wondering what might have been.
Hibs were unequivocal in their promise not to sell Allan to title rivals Rangers last summer, but would they have been as strong in January as the end of the playmaker’s contract neared? Even if they had stood firm once again, Allan could have signed a pre-contract with his boyhood heroes and be watching Sunday’s game knowing he’d have at least four more to look forward to next season.
Now he’s in the Celtic wilderness with the distinct possibility that he’ll never play in an Old Firm game – and that’s amazing to consider when he effectively had his pick of both sides just under a year ago.
That’s not to say his Parkhead future is assured. Worse players than Allan have resurrected their career at the same club when everything looked like they’d be offloaded.
But the Hoops have a plethora of attacking midfield talent now and that will still be the case this summer when Deila – or whoever is manager – gets down to the task of shaping the squad for next season.
Allan is 25 and should be approaching his peak years as a player. Instead, he’ll be lucky if he goes into next season with five starts to his name as a Celt and if the club don’t offload him then surely he’ll be looking to go.