Celtic have hit back with an official statement after comments made by West Brom technical director Luke Dowling about loanee Oliver Burke.
Dowling had some very harsh words for Celtic and Neil Lennon over how their player was treated after joining on loan in January.
As quoted in the Scotsman, Dowling said: “Oli Burke will not be going anywhere near Celtic with the current manager. They [Celtic] will know what went on. Oli obviously knows what happened. It is a mutual decision that he will never return to Celtic.
“Once Brendan left to go to Leicester, the treatment he got from the manager in place – well, subsequently we do not expect any of our players to go anywhere near Celtic Football Club.”
Celtic have refuted these claims and released an official statement on Tuesday morning that read: “These comments, which question the professionalism of both Neil and Celtic Football Club, are ridiculous and completely inaccurate. West Brom have made no contact whatsoever with either Neil or the club in relation to Oliver.
“As with every player who comes to Celtic, Oliver received the very best of treatment and every support and opportunity. We wish Oliver the very best for the future.”
Burke has had a torrid time of things since his move from Nottingham Forest to RB Leipzig in 2016. He spent a season there, making 26 appearances, before being sold to West Brom for the same price the following season. In a season and a half, he only made 21 appearances for the Baggies and was dropped down into the Under-21s before moving to Celtic on loan in January. That deal was agreed by Brendan Rodgers and Burke went on to make 19 appearances for the Scottish champions, scoring four goals. However, he was subbed at half-time in the final Premiership game of the season against Hearts, and was then dropped from the squad entirely for the cup final. Dowling didn’t make his accusations against Lennon clear, but we do know that Burke didn’t impress much at Celtic. Pundit Andy Walker criticised him in the final league game of the season, saying, “I didn’t notice him at all, Burke, in that first half. He comes with such a big reputation.” Tam McManus and Kris Boyd also slammed the West Brom player for his displays at Celtic. If a loan player isn’t performing, a manager must be free to drop the player, unless specific promises have been made. And even then, if Lennon felt he would hamper their chances of lifting the cup, he was well within his rights to leave him out of the squad. Dowling’s comments suggest something else happened, though, and the bad news for Celtic is that they might not be able to do loan business with the Midlands side again.