The Celina saga has finally come to an end... it's time to move on
- Credit: Archant/Kasimpasa
This one just about reached saga territory.
But it’s over for now, with Bersant Celina signed up to spend the season on loan in Turkey with Istanbul-based club Kasimpasa.
Debate over whether or not the talented 25-year-old should be brought back to Portman Road for a third spell was already in full swing by the time last season came to a close. Both internally and externally.
Celina’s second loan in Ipswich brought six goals, including a world class strike against Crewe, and a string of big moments in keeping with what we already knew about the attacker, following his first spell five years ago.
The highs were very high, but were they regular enough? Did he contribute enough on a consistent basis? Is he a luxury player and should the boat be pushed out to sign him? Those were the questions and they were all valid.
For me, and many, Celina would add a great deal to any team in League One. His goal against Crewe is proof he can do things others simply wouldn’t even try and he has an ability to be on hand in the big moments. He’s a showman. There are statistics which show his impact could and would have been so much more had his fellow attackers been able to finish off the chances he created for them.
How Celina could have performed during a full-season under Kieran McKenna, following a complete pre-season and with the heart problems which delayed his start to life in Suffolk firmly in the past, would have been fascinating.
There is a bond between him and Ipswich. Celina strikes you as the kind of player who wants and needs to be loved and to feel the pressure of such expectant support. That’s why he was known to be keen on a return to English football and, specifically, Ipswich.
- 1 Smoke seen across Ipswich as crews tackle large fire
- 2 'He'd be dead' - mum's terror after wave drags her and baby down beach
- 3 Ongoing heathland blaze sees 147 calls made to fire service
- 4 GALLERY: Photos show devastating aftermath of huge fire near Ipswich
- 5 Teenager sexually assaulted and then robbed in Ipswich
- 6 Strong interest expected as 'prime' town centre shop unit hits market with price tag of more than £1m
- 7 Matchday Recap: How Town's cup defeat to Colchester played out
- 8 Teenager’s 10 year sentence is warning over ‘horrendous’ acid attacks
- 9 U-turn on decision to scrap last buses in Ipswich - for now
- 10 Five West End shows coming to Ipswich
No deal was done, though, despite the Blues, Celina and his representatives being in regular contact throughout much of the summer, having initially taken time to cool off and take stock of the season past. The relationships were strong there and, in many ways, still are.
The attacker’s restrictive work permit situation, which meant Ipswich were the only English club he could join, was one the Blues hierarchy were aware of throughout. The same can’t be said for Stoke and Preston, though, who explored moves for the 25-year-old but were forced to abandon their pursuits once it became clear no deal could possibly be done.
Negotiations with Celina’s club, Dijon, were complicated, with Ipswich presenting a string of scenarios to the French side when discussing what a deal could potentially look like. No agreement was reached, though, with Ipswich thought to have maintained a relaxed approach throughout, given their desire to bring Celina back had never reached desperation.
Celina’s move to Kasimpasa comes at the second time of asking, with the Kosovan already making one trip to Turkey and leaving without signing the deal due to concerns regarding the move. He ultimately agreed and returned for take two, with the fact Ipswich didn't react and work to change his mind perhaps an example of just how relaxed the Blues have been about the situation.
He was, just like last summer, seen as a cherry on top of the Blues’ other transfer business, which they would continue to work on regardless of any Celina discussion. This time, though, Ipswich had other cherries under consideration in his position and perhaps still do.
But it’s time to move on from Celina and it’s perhaps helpful any growing saga is put to bed right at the start of August, rather than lingering up to the transfer deadline at the end of the month. There were times when it felt that may well have happened.
Celina’s career will continue nearly 2,000 miles away from Ipswich in Istanbul, where he has joined a club playing in Turkey’s top tier but in front of average home crowds on a par with Colchester United. That seems a shame for a player who thrives off of packed stands and evoking loud cheers.
He’ll have big nights, notably when Kasimpasa visit the giants of Galatasaray, Besiktas and Fenerbahce in Istanbul’s footballing cauldrons, but it’s hard to imagine Celina achieving quite the level of adulation he would have done had he been part of a true Ipswich promotion challenge this season.
Highlight clips will no doubt pop up from time to time, prompting us to wonder what might have been had he returned, but it’s time to move on.
Ipswich have a job to do this season and, while you can certainly argue the signing of Celina might have helped them do it, having to deal with a long-running transfer distraction may not have.
In any case, there’s reason to believe Town’s attacking midfield core can deliver this season. Conor Chaplin performed well in his first Ipswich season but has shown signs he can push things further in 2022/23. He’ll surely be looking to beat the 11 goals he managed last season.
Sone Aluko, we know, brings elegance, class and control to the top end of the pitch and Marcus Harness is proven to produce at League One level. They are very different players, of course, but Harness scored double Celina’s goals and added the same six assists for Portsmouth last season.
Then there’s Tyreece John-Jules, the young Arsenal loanee who has impressed throughout the summer and could perhaps surpass expectation this season.
Four players for two positions. Maybe that's enough.
Town may add further recruits in the attacking midfield area or they may not, but if they do it will hopefully come without the need for a second summer saga.
The moments Celina has produced in Ipswich blue means there will always be some form of gravitational pull between Town and the attacker, who will still have a year remaining on his Dijon contract when his year in Turkey is up.
Same again next summer? Never say never.