When Vakoun Bayo signed for Celtic under then manager Brendan Rodgers, a lot was expected from him.
“It’s a good signing for the club.”
“He’s a young player that has scored goals. He’s broken into the Ivory Coast national team. Kolo knows him well.”
“His physicality and presence will give us something that we missed last season after Moussa left.”
These were the word from Rodgers at the time. Basically, he was seen as a replacement for Moussa Dembele, who of course was very successful in his short time at the club and ended up going to Lyon for around £20m.
Yet, Bayo only went on to make 9 appearances for Celtic, with most of them from the bench. And depending on what site you read or what your eyes tell you, he either only managed to score 2 goals for the club, or none at all, as officially both his goals against Hearts ended up going down as own goals, although, after just watching them again while writing this article, that was incredibly harsh.
I remember after he signed for Celtic there was quite a delay in him actually making an appearance in the first team. Looking at the stats it was between 5-6 weeks after he signed before he actually made his debut for the club, coming on as a late substitute away to Kilmarnock before Scott Brown’s famous late winner.
He spent a lot of time in the reserves and some fans were questioning what the delay was in Bayo playing in the first team, and the talk at the time from people in the know was ‘because he doesn’t look very good’.
This was hard to believe at the time, given he had a very impressive scoring record in Slovakia (18 goals in 23 game – CelticWiki), yet, when he actually got some game time in the first team, you could see where they were coming from. He didn’t really look like a Celtic quality player. He was very raw and a bit clumsy.
He joined Toulouse on loan for the season 20/21 and scored a respectable 10 goals in 31 appearances in the French 2nd division.
This got him a permanent move to Gent on a 4 year deal, but again Bayo failed to make an impact, only making 3 appearances without scoring a goal.
He then moved on loan that same season to Charleroi, where he found his form again, scoring an impressive 11 goals in 16 matches.
This was enough to convince Watford to spend £5m on him in order to spearhead their campaign to get back into the EPL next season.
Incredibly, Bayo is only still 25 years old. And it makes you think, did Celtic not give him enough of a chance to develop?
I mean, the short answer has to be yes. He signed a 4 year contract with us as a young player and we only gave him 9 appearances with most of them from the bench to come on and try and get us a goal.
Perhaps after his loan spell at Toulouse, we should have given him more of a chance instead of selling him on to Gent straight away to get half of our £2m outlay back.
But then again, it looks like the player failed at Gent, but then was a success again in his next move. Perhaps it was never going to work out for him at Celtic? Were the lights too bright?
I think we forget as supporters sometimes just how difficult it is to play for a club like Celtic. There are not many clubs in world football, where the demand is there that you have to win week in and week out, where drawing is classed as defeat, where you play in front of 60k supporters. This was a kid who was probably around 21 years old at the time, coming in from the Slovakian league. Is it really fair for us to expect him to hit the heights in his first season?
The argument is also there that he simply wasn’t and still isn’t good enough to play for Celtic. Yes, he’s scored goals, but in the French 2nd division, in the Slovakian league and in the Belgium league.
People like to put down Scottish football, I get it, it’s not the greatest standard in the world, but people are mistaken if they think the Belgium league is any better.
This is a league where Jack Hendry was voted the best payer in the entire league when he was on loan at Oostende from Celtic, yet he couldn’t get near the Celtic first team, and anyone who has watched him play for Scotland recently, knows he still wouldn’t get near our first team.
Yet, after Oostende took up the low option to buy on Hendry, they sold him straight away to Club Brugge for £6m!
It is a strange one, but you know what, I wouldn’t be surprised if Bayo smashed in the goals for Watford in the Championship. They will no doubt be one of the better teams in the league next season and some of the defending you see in that league is atrocious.
But, if he does go on to have a successful career in England, it is only going to make that question burn even hotter.
Should Bayo have been given more of a chance at Celtic?