Now, it’s not clear exactly who Park identified, scouted or had a big say on signing, but you have to think he had a big impact on the club’s recruitment policy given his job role.
The Hoops poached him from Hibs in 2007 after he played a big part in developing the Easter Road outfit’s youth academy.
And fans will credit him for the club bringing in some great players over the last nine years.
Here we rank the five best signings during Park’s reign:
1 – Victor Wanyama – £900,000 from Beerschot AC
When ranking these players, you have to think about the amount they were signed for, the impact they had for Celtic and also consider how much money they were eventually sold for. With Wanyama they got a player who was clearly capable of playing for the club from the start and quickly developed into a star in Europe too. In his time at Parkhead, the midfielder won two league titles, a Scottish Cup and helped Neil Lennon’s team to the Champions League last 16 once. Wanyama’s goal against Barcelona probably added a few million on to the eventual £12.5million fee Southampton spent to sign him in 2013. That’s still a club record.
2 – Virgil van Dijk – £2.6million from Groningen
Like Wanyama, van Dijk is another who signed on at Celtic despite fans not knowing much at all about him. It wasn’t quite the snip of the Kenyan’s £900k deal, but signing van Dijk for £2.6million was a snip when you consider the player Celtic got and the fact he left just two years after for £11.5million. Van Dijk got two league titles, a League Cup and was another star turn in Europe – and it’s no surprise the team has had some big defensive issues since he left last year.
3 – Scott Brown – £4.4million from Hibs
Brown is different to Wanyama and van Dijk because he arrived for a pretty substantial fee and hasn’t gone on to make the club a profit. That’s because he already had a big reputation from his time with Hibs and is now a Celtic favourite after spending 10 years with the club. Say what you like about Brown, but he must be doing something right if managers consistently play him and he contributes to a club which has won 10 major trophies in his time there as a player. Celtic won’t make their money back on him, but the captain’s long-term impact can’t be understated. Park was involved in bringing Brown through at Hibs and the skipper was one of the first signings after the former Head of Football Development moved from Edinburgh to Glasgow.
4 – Fraser Forster – £2million from Newcastle
Celtic can take a lot of credit for the career Forster has had since realising he wasn’t going to make the grade at Newcastle. He had a loan spell at Norwich, but it was his back-to-back temporary moves north that really set him up to become a Premier League star. Celtic signed him permanently for £2million in 2012 and he needed just two years of top performances to persuade Southampton to spend £10million on him. Forgetting the £8million profit he made, Forster contributed to three league titles, two Scottish Cups and a run to the Champions League last-16. At times he was so good for Celtic that Barcelona were linked with him. As signings go, especially for a goalkeeper, Forster will always be a standout.
5 – Georgios Samaras – £2million from Manchester City
Now, it was a toss-up between a few to get this fifth and final spot, but Samaras just shades it because of the long-term impact he had at Celtic. He arrived first on loan and then for £2million in a permanent move and made a genuine impact over a long period of time despite falling in and out of the team. Samaras scored 74 goals in 249 appearances for Celtic on the way to helping them win four league titles, two Scottish Cups and a League Cup. He was also consistently instrumental for Celtic in Europe under Neil Lennon. That is quite return. We’re not sure so much was expected of the Greek forward when he signed for the club on loan, but a void was clearly left in attack when he exited Parkhead in 2014. Like Brown, Celtic didn’t make any money on his signing, but his six-year stay suggests he’s been one of the best signings they’ve made over the last nine years.
What’s your view? Do you disagree with any of the above?
Let us know in the comments below..
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