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Our view: Stuart Armstrong's lack of progress since leaving Celtic may bring regrets

Ross McCrorie of Rangers vies with Stuart Armstrong of Celtic during the Scottish Premier League match between Celtic and Ranger at Celtic Park on December 30, 2017 in Glasgow, Scotland.

The former Celtic hero is struggling for form and starts since leaving Glasgow.

Ross McCrorie of Rangers vies with Stuart Armstrong of Celtic during the Scottish Premier League match between Celtic and Ranger at Celtic Park on December 30, 2017 in Glasgow, Scotland.

Stuart Armstrong's 2016/17 season at Celtic was nothing short of stellar.

It was that campaign that he solidified his status as one of the best midfielders Scotland has to offer.

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With ambitious runs from midfield and a clever finishing ability, he helped the Hoops on their way to an invincible treble under Brendan Rodgers.

He scored 17 goals that year and was named in the PFA Scotland Team of the Year. The world was his oyster.

Quickly after though it became apparent he would not be content with an lengthy career at Celtic.

After talks on a new contract stalled (BBC), he eventually penned an extension that went just one year beyond his deal at the time. It was a sign he was ready to move on.

Less than a year later he made the move to the English Premier League with Southampton for a reported £7m (BBC). Salary tracking site Spotrac claim that he earns as much as £50,000-a-week on the south coast.

 

A lucrative move with problems

Financially it's hardly been a bad move for the midfielder, but a year down the line, things aren't looking too clever for him.

Armstrong claimed in November of 2018 he had no regrets leaving Scottish football to test himself in England (BBC).

However, in the same interview he admitted: "It's always hard when you're not playing games - not starting games especially - because nobody likes sitting on the bench

"I'm not the most patient. I need to learn to adapt."

If he was impatient back then, he's not likely to be much happier now.

He's appeared regularly from the bench since making the switch from Celtic but has failed to get a real run of starts at the Saints since Ralph Hasenhuttl arrived at the club.

In total he's made 16 starts in the Premier League and just seven so far in 2019.

This season he doesn't appear any closer to making a real breakthrough.

Money isn't everything.

Scotland's midfielder Stuart Armstrong (R) pressures Belgium's defender Toby Alderweireld (L) during the Euro 2020 football qualification match between Scotland and Belgium at Hampden Park,...

Stalling with Scotland

His lack of progress at Southampton has had a clear impact on his career with the Scotland national team too. The 15-cap international made his big breakthrough into the team when with Celtic.

That continued well into his Saints career, but as the minutes have dried up in England, so have his opportunities under Steve Clarke.

He's failed to start the last four Scotland internationals, reduced to second half cameos or, as against Russia, unused on the bench.

If he wants to make it into a competitive midfield ahead of Scott McTominay, Ryan Christie or Callum McGregor then he needs to get back to having a healthy club career.

Stephen O'Donnell of Kilmarnock vies with Stuart Armstrong of Celtic during the Scottish Premier League between Celtic and Kilmarnock at Celtic Park on May 9, 2018 in Glasgow, Scotland.

What could he have achieved at Celtic?

Clearly Armstrong wanted to challenge himself in England and that kind of ambition is to be commended. However, it's fair to say the move hasn't paid off for him so far.

At Celtic he could have become a club icon and had a career that would put him up there with some modern era greats.

Tangible success in the form of silverware is nothing to be sniffed at and right now, Celtic are on the verge of Scottish football history that would be legacy stuff for any star.

Still just 27, it's not as if he's finished, and he could go on to achieve great things elsewhere.

However, every footballer's professional career has a limited timespan and, if he's not currently enjoying his football, the exit from Celtic is something he could come to regret despite public assertions otherwise.

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