Celtic happy to try before they buy if it helps Neil Lennon's team cash in

TRY before you buy is a policy that's paying dividends for Celtic – Fraser Forster and Georgios Samaras are proof.

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Fraser Forster and Georgios Samaras both came to Parkhead on loan deals, from Newcastle and Manchester City respectively, before they made their switch permanent
Fraser Forster and Georgios Samaras both came to Parkhead on loan deals, from Newcastle and Manchester City respectively, before they made their switch permanent

The Parkhead club are looking to embrace the loan system again in this transfer window, both in terms of players coming in and others going out.

Rami Gershon looks like becoming the latest to be given the opportunity to join the club on a temporary contract, with a view to making the move from Standard Liege permanent if he can convince Neil Lennon he has recovered from injury and is worth a long-term commitment from the Parkhead club.

The loan route provides a very useful safety net when it comes to testing the water with potential purchases, particularly when shopping in the market in which Celtic currently operate.

The complete package is almost always going to be out of their price range, so some gambles have to made.

The Celtic boss has quickly discovered what all of his pre-decessors found out – that you never really establish precisely what you have got in any player until he is here and performing. Can they cope with the climate, the culture, the style of football?

This all-important getting-to-know-you process does not just pertain to players coming in from abroad.

Even home-grown players who have plied their trade in the SPL still have to show they can adjust to the unique demands of playing for Celtic, where winning – trophies as well as games – is not just a requirement but a necessity.

History reveals a litany of players purchased from British clubs – men like Willo Flood – who have found it is one thing to play well against the jersey, it is something else again to play well in it.

Others, no matter their background, experience or ample credentials, simply find they can't make the adjustment, and their performances betray their struggle.

Miku appears to fall into that category. The Venezuelan striker arrived in Glasgow with a glowing reputation earned through scoring goals for Getafe in Spain.

However, the physical nature of the game here has caught him unawares.

And, while Lennon insists he retains full confidence in Miku, and is sure he will make the transition long before his loan contract is up at the end of the season, there must be a sense of relief his capture was not on a permanent transfer, with the significant costs attached.

The other loan signing in the summer window, keeper Lubos Kamenar from Nantes, has made even less of an impact.

He has yet to be seen in a competitive match for the Hoops and remains very much in the shadows of Forster and Lukasz Zaluska.

Kamenar and Miku are not the first to be given the opportunity to shine, but fail to even flicker.

Last season, Dynamo Kiev's Moroccan full-back, Badr El Kadourri started with a bang – including scoring at Ibrox – but was quickly exposed as well short of what was required.

At least it did not cost the club too much to find this out. Unlike Edson Braafheid, who is reputed to have been on £40,000-per-week during his four months on loan at Celtic from Bayern Munich.

The Dutchman – who played in the 2010 World Cup final for Holland – was one of the last throws of Tony Mowbray's dice, and proved to be a hugely unsuccessful punt.

This time last year, Pawel Brozek was the big loan signing for Celtic.

The Polish striker came here from Turkey desperate to boost his chances of regaining his place in his national team ahead of their joint-hosting of the European Championships.

As part of the deal, Celtic agreed a fee with Trazsbonspor to upgrade the transfer to permanent status.

But both player and Lennon quickly established this was a marriage which would not go beyond the honeymoon, and an unamicable split followed.

Of course, some loans do work out well. Celtic fans still think back with affection to the short-term stays of Craig Bellamy and Robbie Keane, though, it has to be remembered neither big name – and wage – striker was able to deliver a championship.

Among those who have made an instant and winning impact is keeper Forster, who Lennon wanted to secure after his first loan spell, but Newcastle made them wait until he had served a second term before agreeing to sell.

Samaras is another who began his Celtic career on a temporary contract, arriving from Manchester City back in January 2008.

The Greek international needed to be given a chance to resurrect a career which had badly stalled, and Gordon Strachan offered him it.

With an SPL championship medal the bonus for what was supposed to be a short-term stay, both player and club recognised they were a good fit.

The fact Samaras had taken so well to life in Glasgow and was so keen to make the move permanent made negotiating his personal terms much easier, and he is now one of the club's longest-serving players and a huge asset.

Had Celtic gone to Manchester City and Samaras with the offer of a permanent transfer from the off, the chances are they would have been rebuffed.

So, while often loans are an opportunity for a player to sell himself to the club, they can also be an opportunity for the club to sell itself to the player.

The flip side for Lennon has been the ability to use loans to give fringe men at Celtic game time and, more importantly, reduce the wage bill at the club, particularly when the squad he inherited was so bloated with players who would not figure in his short-term or even long-term plans.

At one stage, soon after he took over from Mowbray, more than an entire Celtic team were out on loan.

Jos Hooiveld used the opportunity of a short-term move to Southampton to convince the then Championsip club to offer Celtic close to £1million for him, which was happily accepted.

It's highly unlikely such a bid would have been forthcoming if the only stage on which he could try to impress was development squad games surrounded by a host of Hoops kids.

Most recently, Mo Bangura has got his mojo back while on loan at the club who sold him to Celtic – AIK – and the Swedish outfit would like to strike a deal to get the 23-year-old back for good.

Only time will tell if the loan route leads to a permanent stay for Gershon. But it is a well-worn path which Celtic are familiar with, and will continue to travel.

Finance

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