BRENDAN Rodgers has admitted Celtic will never be able to afford a player who can be a stand-out performer in the Champions League and will have to rely on team work to compete in Europe.
Rodgers, whose side booked a place in the last 32 of the Europa League on Tuesday evening despite losing their final Champions League group game 1-0 to Anderlecht, is set to strengthen his squad in January.
But the Northern Irishman, whose team could be drawn to face AC Milan, Arsenal or Atletico Madrid or in February, will not alter his recruitment plans despite the Scottish champions’ latest achievement.
Having squared up to Paris Saint-Germain, who fielded the most expensive forward line in football history in Edinson Cavani, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar up front, and Bayern Munich, who played with Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller in attack, in Group B he knows his club is unable to compete with the continent’s elite in the transfer market.
Asked if booking a place in the last 32 of the Europa League had changed his thoughts about who he would attempt to bring in to Celtic during the next window, Rodgers said: “Not really.
“I am pretty clear where we are at as a squad and I am also realistic about what we can bring in. The challenge here is always to push and be the very best we can be despite the resources we have.
“At this level we are nowhere near it. But at this level we have to find a way and try and represent Celtic and represent the nation the best we can.
“The players we have will benefit from being involved in the Champions League, but it is also about quality as well. If you are going to compete then of course it is about quality.
“But it is very difficult for us to get that. We will always rely on the collective, we will always rely on the team. There won’t be one player at this level who is a massive stand-out. Our star is the team. That is the way it will always be.”
Meanwhile, Rodgers has expressed the view that Celtic’s disappointing showing against Anderlecht at Parkhead was partially down to the fact their opponents, who they had defeated away in Belgium back in September, needed to win 3-0 in order to go through.
He added: “We weren’t very good in our ball possession in the first half, in our belief in taking the ball. But I also think part of that was down to the context of the game.
“As easy as it is to say it is 0-0 when we play the game there is still that mentality, not just from ourselves, but also from them.
“They have got to start the game and really come onto the game. The pressure is right off them and when the pressure is off you can play your best football.”