Celtic could avoid making the same mistakes as last summer by agreeing some free transfers this month, according to Alex McLeish.

The former Rangers and Scotland boss, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, insisted players joining early as opposed to midway through the off-season could make a significant impact ahead of next season.

As revealed by Football Insider, Celtic are hoping to wrap up the signing of Preston defender Ben Davies on a pre-contract deal after tracking the 25-year-old since last summer.

This site understands the Bhoys are also in advanced talks to sign 19-year-old Sheffield Wednesday midfielder Liam Shaw on another pre-contract agreement after his breakthrough at Hillsborough.

Of Celtic’s five new senior signings last summer, Vasilis Barkas was the earliest arrival after he put pen to paper in late July.

Albian Ajeti and David Turnbull both joined the Bhoys in August while Shane Duffy and Diego Laxalt arrived at Parkhead in September and October respectively.

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McLeish believes getting some new faces through the door for the first day of training this summer would help the players settle and get them up to speed.

McLeish told Football Insider: “You know, bringing them halfway through, or bringing them two weeks before you start pre-season training again – which I’ve had experience of in the past – it doesn’t work, it very rarely works, it wouldn’t work in every situation.

“I’ve always felt if the preparation is done properly, if you’ve got signings in advance, you’ve scouted them to the full and you’re so adamant and sure that these guys are going to be making some big contribution to your squad, or your team, then do it in advance.

“It’s less of a headache and it’s less of a: ‘Oh, I wonder if he’ll be any good, we’ve just started pre-season training,’ and then two weeks later you’re starting the league again.

“I’ve had examples of that in my career when we bought a lot of players in the summer, just before the season started, and they were fantastic players in their own careers, but it just didn’t work.

“Having people lined up from the January window which we did in the year of Helicopter Sunday, we had players earmarked from January – Dado Prso and Jean-Alain Boumsong, they must have been two of the best free transfers ever.” 

In other news, a big update on Celtic pursuit of Ben Davies can be revealed after overnight talks.