The 2016/17 Scottish Premiership season saw one of British football’s greatest rivalries re-ignite, with Celtic and Rangers competing in the league for the first time since 2012. However, there was little competition for the title, or any domestic trophy, as Brendan Rodgers’ Bhoys completed a clean sweep of trophies, finishing the domestic season unbeaten with the treble.
There was a 39-point difference between Celtic and Rangers last season, but the 2017/18 campaign could prove to be a different story, with a number of interesting scenarios unfolding in Scottish football this summer, including the future of Celtic’s Moussa Dembele.
Dembele was in fine form last season for the Hoops, with the striker scoring 32 goals across all competitions, including 17 in the league. The 20-year old’s performances in Scotland have not gone unnoticed, and clubs around the world are monitoring the striker’s situation at Parkhead, including AC Milan, whose interest in Dembele continues to grow this summer.
🎥 | Congratulations to @MDembele_10 for winning the Top Goal scorer award 👏🏻
Here’s all 32 goals from the Frenchman this season ⚽️ pic.twitter.com/dkrPXfFhko
— Read Celtic (@ReadCeltic) April 30, 2017
Should Dembele leave Celtic in the coming months, it will leave Rodgers’ side significantly weaker than they have been for the past 12 months, which could see their odds of 1/16 to retain their Scottish Premiership title alter.
Whilst Celtic could be weaker next season, Rangers will almost definitely be stronger, particularly having had the benefit of a season back in the Scottish Premiership. Pedro Caixinha’s side are 9/1 in bet365’s Scottish football betting to win the league next year.
It is difficult to see how Rangers can overhaul a 39-point gap and stop what looks like a rampaging Celtic side, but Caixinha will have identified the positions that need strengthening in the summer transfer window for the Gers to be more of a threat to their Glasgow rivals next season.
Two players from the English Championship have been linked with potential moves to Ibrox next season, Graham Dorrans and Steven Naismith, who have both been made available for transfer from Norwich City.
Dorrans, 30, has played in English football since 2008, spending time with West Bromwich Albion, before moving to Norwich in 2015. However, the Scottish midfielder has previous experience north of the border, playing for Livingston in the Scottish Premiership.
Naismith has previous experience of playing in front of the Ibrox crowd, having been part of the Rangers squad between 2007 and 2012. The forward scored eight goals from 34 appearances for Norwich last season, and the Canaries’ decision to move the 30-year old on is a surprise, but could prove to be a major plus for the Gers during the 2017/18 campaign.
After the way the 2016/17 season went for Celtic, it is unlikely that Rangers will challenge their greatest rivals directly for the Scottish Premiership title next year. However, potential exits from Parkhead, combined with the possible arrivals of Dorrans and Naismith at Ibrox mean that Scottish football could be far more competitive in 12-months time, with the Gers a more experienced outfit.
Caixinha’s side will undoubtedly be more prepared for the challenge of top-flight football next season, and watching Celtic and Rangers continue their battles in the Scottish Premiership next year will be a spectacle, despite the swing in favour of the Bhoys in 2017.