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‘Celtic should have strengthened in the summer – like Liverpool did’ – Brendan Rodgers blames Champions League failure on lack of new signings

DOWN AND OUT

The Scottish champions were dumped out of Europe’s elite competition at the third qualifying round by AEK Athens on Tuesday night…

Brendan Rodgers has blamed Celtic’s failure to qualify for the Champions League on their lack of signings, saying the club should have strengthened like his former club Liverpool did this summer.

The Scottish giants failed to reach the Champions League group stages for the first time under Rodgers, as they suffered a 2-1 defeat away at AEK Athens on Tuesday – losing their third qualifying round tie 3-2 on aggregate.

Brendan Rodgers has failed to guide Celtic to the Champions League group stages for the first time

Brendan Rodgers has failed to guide Celtic to the Champions League group stages for the first time

Reports from Glasgow have suggested the manager is unhappy with his lack of new arrivals at Celtic Park, having failed to sign a number of public targets.

The Bhoys have signed just three new players this summer, breaking their transfer record to land Odsonne Edouard from Paris Saint-Germain and bringing in Honduran defender Emilio Izaguirre and Scottish goalkeeper Scott Bain on free transfers.

Odsonne Edouard was an £8million signing for Celtic this summer

Odsonne Edouard was an £8million signing for Celtic this summer

Fans have been baffled at the lack of action in the window, especially given the club made around £30million by reaching the Champions League last season.

And after the defeat in Greece, Rodgers admitted he is similarly frustrated.

“It’s pretty obvious, you have to keep progressing and keep getting stronger,” Rodgers told BBC Scotland.

“You only need to look at Liverpool, who got to the Champions League final and invested the money they had to be stronger.

“It’s not rocket science. You have to always guard against becoming complacent and the way you do that is by adding to the squad. There are players we’ve kept, but obviously getting other players in.

“But that’s for another day, there’s a disappointment tonight from the players that were here that we let that slip through our hands.”

Celtic are going through a sticky patch

Celtic are going through a sticky patch

Celtic will now drop into a play-off to qualify for the Europa League group stages, where they face either Latvia’s Spartaks Jurmala or Suduva of Lithuania.

And with European football still within reach, Rodgers has hinted there is still time to bring in some new players after Celtic suffered in Athens without a number of key players.

Record signing Edouard missed the game through injury, Moussa Dembele was only fit enough for bench and Kristoffer Ajer was suspended, while Dedryck Boyata stayed at home amid allegations he is refusing to play for the club.

“We’ve been unfortunate in missing some of our key players,” added Rodgers.

“We wanted the Champions League but the Europa League is still a very good competition.

“Celtic will always attract very good players and that is hopefully something we can still do before the window closes.”

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